Joseph Addison.

Addison; selections from Addison's papers contributed to the Spectator; online

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than their own inclinations.

It is the great advantage of a trading nation, that there are

20 very few in it so dull and heavy who may not be placed in
stations of life, which may give them an opportunity of makmg
their fortunes. A well-regulated commerce is not, like Uw,
physic, or divinity, to be overstocked with hands ; but, on the
contrary, flourishes by multitudes, and gives emjdoyment to all
its professors. Fleets of merchantmen are so many squadrons
of floating shops, that vend our wares and manufactures in ali
the markets of the world, and find out chapmen under both the
^tropics. — G.

No. 25. On the excessive care of health / letter of the Valetid'

^grescitqne medendo. — Vtsuq. Mn, xil. 46.
The following letter will explain itself and needs no apology.
30 * Sir,

*I am one of that sickly tribe who are commonly known by the
name of Vadetudinarians ; and do confess to you, that I first con*
tracted this ill habit of body, or rather of mind, by the study d
physic. I no sooner begsm to peruse books of this natiu>e, but I

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found my pulse was irregular ; and scarce ever read the account
of any disease that I did not fancy myself afflicted with. Dr.
Sydenham's learned treatise of fevers ^ threw me into a linger-
ing hectic, which hung upon me all the while I was reading that
excellent piece. I then applied myself to the study of several
authors, who have written upon phthisical distempers, and by that
means fell into a consumption; till at length, growing very
fat, I was in a manner shamed out of that imagination. Not
long after this I found in myself all the symptoms of the gout
10 except pain ; but was cured of it by a treatise upon the gravel,
written by a very ingenious author, who (as it is usual for phy-
sicians to convert one distemper into another) eased me of the
gout by giving me the stone. I at length studied myself into a
complication of (^stempers ; but accidentally taking into my hand
that ingenious discourse written by Sanctorius, I was resolved to
direct myself by a scheme of rules which I had collected from his
observations "». The learned world are very well acquainted with
that gentleman's invention ; who, for the better carrying out of
his experiments, contrived a certain mathematical chair, which
20 was so artificially hung upon springs, that it would weigh anything
as well as a pair of scales. By this means he discovered how
many ounces of his food passed by perspiration, what quantity of
it was turned into nourishment, and how much went away by the
other channels and distributions of nature.

* Having provided myself with this chair, I used to study, eat,
drink, and sleep in it ; insomuch that I may be said, for these three
last years, to have lived in a pair of scales. I compute myself, when
I am in full health, to be precisely two hundred weight, falling
short of it about a pound after a day's fast, and exceeding it
30 as much srfter a very full meal ; so that it is my continual employ-
ment to trim the balance between these two volatile pounds in
my constitution. In my ordinary meals I fetch myself up to two
hundred weight and half a pound ; and if after having dined I find
myself fall short of it, I drink just so much small beer, or eat such
a quantity of bread, as is sufficient to make me weight. In my
greatest excesses I do not transgress more than the other half-
pound ; which, for my health's sake, I do the first Monday in every
month. As soon as I find myself duly poised after dinner, I walk
till I have perspired five ounces and four scruples ; and when I
40 discover, by my chair, that I am so far reduced, I fall to my books,

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and study away three ounces more. As for the remaining parts
of the pound, I keep no account of them. I do not dine and sup
by the clock, but by my chair ; for when that informs me my
pound of food is exhausted, I conclude myself to be hungry, and
lay in another with all diligence. In my days of abstinence I lose
a pound and a half, and on solemn fasts am two pound lighter
than on other days in the year.

* I allow myself, one night with another, a quarter of a pound of
sleep within a few grains, more or less ; and if upon my rising I

10 find that I have not consumed my whole quantity, I take out the
rest in my chair. Upon an exact calculation of what I expended
and received the last year, which I always register in a book, I
find the medium to be two hundred weight, so that I cannot dis-
cover that I am impaired one ounce in my health during a whole
twelvemonth. And yet. Sir, notwithstanding this my great care
to ballast myself equally every day, and to keep my body in its
proper poise, so it is, that I find myself in a sick and languishing
condition. My complexion is grown very sallow, my pulse low,
and my body hydropical. Let me therefore beg you. Sir, to con-

30 sider me as your patient, and to give me more certain rules to
walk by than those I have already observed, and you will very
much oblige,

* Tour bumble Servant?
This letter puts me in mind of an Italian epitaph written on
the monument of a Valetudinarian ; Stavo ben ; ma,per <tar meglio,
jto qui : which it is impossible to translate °. The fear of death often
proves mortal, and sets people on methods to save their lives
which infallibly destroy them. This is a reflexion made by some
historians, upon observing that there are many more thousands

30 killed in a flight than in a battle ; and may be applied to those
multitudes of imaginary sick persons that break tlieir constitu-
tions by physic, and throw themselves into the arms of death, by
endeavouring to escape it. This method is not only dangerous,
but below the practice of a reasonable creature. To consult the
preservation of life as the only end of it, to make our health our
business, to engage in no action that is not part of a regimen or
course of physic, are purposes so abject, so mean, so unworthy
human nature, that a generous soul would rather die than submit
to them. Besides that a continual anxiety for life vitiates all the
^o relishes of it, and casts a gloom over the whole face of nature,

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it is impossible we should take delight in any thing that we are
every moment afraid of losing.

I do not mean^ by what I have here said, that I think any one
to blame for taking due care of their health. On the contrary,
as chearfulness of mind and capacity for business are in a great
measure the effects of a well-tempered constitution, a man cannot
be at too much pains to cultivate and preserve it. But this care,
which we are prompted to not only by common sense but by
duty and instinct, should never engage us in groundless fears,

10 melancholy apprehensions, and imaginary distempers, which
are natural to every man who is more anxious to live than
how to live. In short, the preservation of life should be only
a secondary concern, and the direction of it our principal. If
we have this frame ei mind, we shall take the best means to
preserve life, without being over solicitous about the event ; and
shall arrive at that point of felicity which Martial has mentioned
as the penection of happiness, of neither fearing nor wishing for
In answer to the gentleman, who tempers his health by ounces

aoand by scruples, and, instead of complying with those natural
solicitations of hunger and thirst, drowsiness or love of exercise,
governs himself by the prescriptions of his chair, I shall tell him
a short fable. Jupiter, says the mythologist, to reward the piety
of a certain countryman, promised to give him whatever he would
ask. The countryman desired that he might have the manage-
ment of the weather in his own estate. He obtained his request,
and immediately distributed rain, snow, and sun-shine, among
his several fields, as he thought the nature of the soil required.
At the end of the year, when he expected to see a more than or-

30 dinary crop, his* harvest fell infinitely short of that of his neigh-
bours: upon which, (says the fable,) he desired Jupiter to take
the weather again into his own hands, or that otherwise he should
utterly ruin himself.— -C.


No. 28. On Sigrt'pojtj; their oddity and incongruity; two letters
on the subject*

Neqae semper arcum
Tendit Apollo. HoR. Od. ii. 10.

I shall here present my reader with a letter from a projector.

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concerning a new office which he thinks may very much con-
tribute to the embellishment of the city, and to the driving
barbarity out of our streets. I consider it as a satire upon pro-
jectors in general, and a lively picture of the whole art of modern


* Observing that you have thoughts of creating certain officers
under you, for the inspection of several petty enormities which
you yourself cannot attend to, and finding daily absurdities

10 hung out upon the sign-posts of this city, to the great scandal of
foreigners, as well as those of our own country, who are curious
spectators of the same, — I do humbly propose, that you would be
pleased to make me your superintendant of all such figures and
devices as are or shall be made use of on this occasion ; with M
powers to rectify or expunge whatever I shall find irregular or
defective. For want of such an officer, there is nothing like sound
literature and good sense to be met with in these objects, that
are every where thrusting themselves out to the eye, and endea-
vouring to become visible. Our streets are filled with blue boars,

20 black swans, and red lions ; not to mention flying pigs, hogs in
armour, with many other creatures more extraordinary than any
in the deserts of Afric. Strange ! that one who has all the birds
and beasts in nature to chuse out of, should live at the sign of an
ens rationis !

* My first task, therefore, should be, like that of Hercules, to
clear the city from monsters. In the second place, I would for-
bid that creatures of jarring and incongruous natures should be
joined together in the same sign ; such as the Bell and the Neat's
Tongue, the Dog and the Gridiron. The Fox and the Goose may

30 be supposed to have met, but what has the Fox and the Seven
Stars to do together ? And when did the Lamb and Dolphin
ever meet, except upon a sign-post ? As for the Cat and Fiddle,
there iJ a conceit in it ; and therefore I do not intend that any
thing I have here said shibld affect it. I must however observe
to you upon this subject, that it is usual for a young tradesman,
at his first setting up, to add to his own sign that of the master
whom he served, as the husband after marriage gives a place to
his mistress's arms in his own coat. This I take to have given
rise to many of those absurdities which are committed over our




heads ; and, as I am informed, first occasioned the Three Nuns
and a Hare, which we see so frequently joined together. I would
therefore establish certain rules, for the determining how far one
tradesman may give the sign of another, and in what cases he may
be allowed to quarter it with his own.

* In the third place, I would enjoin every shop to make use of a
sign which bears some affinity to the wares in which he deals. A
cook should not live at the Boot, nor a shoemaker at the Roasted
Pig ; and yet, for want of this regulation, I have seen a goat set
10 up before the door of a perfumer, and the French king's head at
a sword-cutler's.

' An ingenious foreigner observes that several of those gentle-
men who value themselves upon their families, and overlook such
as are bred to trade, bear the tools of their forefathers in their
coats of arms. I will not examine how true this is in fact : but
though it may not be necessary for posterity thus to set up the
sign of their forefathers, I think it highly proper for those who
actually profess the trade, to shew some such marks of it before
their doors.
20 * When the name gives an occasion for an ingenious sign-post, I
would likewise advise the owner to take that opportunity of letting
the world know who he is. It would have been ridiculous for
the ingenious Mrs. Salmon to have lived at the sign of the Trout;
for which reason she has erected before her house the figure of
the fish that is her name-sake. Mr. Bell has likewise distinguished
himself by a device of the same nature ; and here, Sir, I must beg
leave to observe to you, that this particular figure of a bell has
given occasion to several pieces of wit in this kind. A man of
your reading must know that Abel Drugger ^ gained great ap-
30 plause by it in the time of Ben Jonson. Our apocryphal heathen
god^ is also represented by this figure; which, in conjunction
wjth the dragon, makes a very handsome picture in several of our
streets. As for the Bell Savage, which is the sign of a savage man
standing by a bell, I was formerly very much puzzled upon the
conceit of it, till I accidentally fell into the reading of an old
romance translated out of the French, which gives an account
of a very beautiful woman who was found in a wilderness, and
is called in the French La Belle Sawvage; and is everywhere
translated by our countrymen the Bell Savage. This piece
40 of philology will, I hope, convince you that I have made sign-

R 2

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posts my study, and conseqiiently qualified myself for the em-
ployment which I solicit at your hands. But before I conclude
my letter, I must communicate to you another remark which I
have made upon the subject with which I am now entertaining
you, namely, that I can give a shrewd guess at the humour of the
inhabitant by the sign that hangs before his door, A surly
cholerick fellow generally makes choice of a bear ; as men of
milder dispositions frequently live at the Lamb. Seeing a punch-
bowl painted upon a sign near Charing Cross, and very curiously
lo garnished, with a couple of angels hovering over it, and squeezing
a lemon into it, I had the curiosity to ask after the master of the
house, and found upon enquiry, as I had guessed by the little
agremens upon his sign, that he was a Frenchman. I know, Sir,
it is not requisite for me to enlarge upon these hints to a gentle-
man of your abilities ; so humbly recommending myself to your
favour and patronage,

* I remain, &c.'

I shall add to the foregoing letter another which came to me
by the same penny-post.

20 • From my own apartment near Charing-cioss.

'Honoured Sir,
* Having heard that this nation is a great encourager of in-
genuity, I have brought with me a rope-dancer that was caught m
one of the woods belonging to the Great Mogul. He is by birth
a monkey ; but swings upon a rope, takes a pipe of tobacco, and
drinks a glass of ale, like any reasonable creature. He gives
great satisfaction to the quality ; and if they will make a sub-
scription for him I will send for a brother of his out of Holland
that is a very good tumbler ; and also for another of tiie same

30 family whom I design for a Merry- Andrew, as being an excellent
mimic, and the greatest droll in the country where he now is. I
hope to have this entertainment in a readiness for the next winter;
and doubt not but that it will please more than the opera or puppet-
show. I will not say that a monkey is a better man than some
of the opera heroes ; but certainly he is a better representative
of a man than the most artificial composition of wood and wire.
If you will be pleased to give me a good word in your paper, you
shall be every night a spectator at my show for nothing,

* I am, &c.'— C.

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Wo. 37. A Lady's Library ; list of the books ; account of their

Non ilia colo calathisve Minervae
Foemineas assueta manus.

Vmo. ^n. vii. 805.
Un-bred to spinning, in the loom unskilled.


Some months ago, my friend Sir Roger, being in the country,
inclosed a letter to me, directed to a certain lady whom I shall
here call by the name of Leonora, and as it contained matters' of
consequence, desired me to deliver it to her with my own hand.
Accordingly I waited upon her ladyship pretty early in the
morning, and was desired by her woman to walk into her lady's
library, till such time as she was in readiness to receive me. The
very sound of a lady's library gave me a great curiosity to see it ;
and, as it was some time before the lady came to me, I had an

10 opportunity of turning over a great many of her books, which
were ranged together in a very beautiful order. At the end of
the folios (which were finely bound and gilt) were great jars of
china placed one above another in a very noble piece of archi-
tecture. The quartos were separated from the octavos by a pile
of smaller vessels, which rose in a delightful pyramid. The
octavos were bounded by tea-dishes of all shapes, colours, and
sizes, which were so disposed 'on a wooden frame, that they
looked like one continued pillar indented with the finest strokes
of sculpture, and stained with the greatest variety of dyes. That

20 part of the library which was designed for the reception of plays
and pamphlets, and other loose papers, was inclosed in a khnl of
square, consisting of one of the prettiest grotesque works that I
ever saw, and made up of scaramouches, lions, monkeys, man-
darines, trees, shells, and a thousand other odd figures in china
ware. In the midst of the room was a little japan table, with
a quire of gilt paper upon it, and upon the paper a silver snuff-
box made in the shape of a little book. I found there were
several other counterfeit books upon the upper shelves, which
were carved in wood, and served only to fill up the number, like

30 faggots in the muster of a regiment. I was wonderfully {leased
witii such a mixed kind of furniture as seemed very suitable both
to the lady and the scholar, and did not know at first whether I
.should fancy myself in a grotto or in a library.



Upon my looking into the books I found there were some few
which the lady had bought for her own use, but that most of
them had been got together, either because she had heard them
praised, or because she had seen the authors of them. Among
several that I examined, I very well remember these that follow.

Ogleby's Virgil ^.

Dryden's Juvenal.


10 Astraea.

Sir Isaac Newton's works.

The Grand Cyrus; with a pin stuck in one of the middle

Pembroke's Arcadia.

Locke of Human Understanding ; with a paper of patches in it

A spelling-book.

A dictionary for the explanation of hard words.

Sherlock upon Death.

The Fifteen Comforts of Matrimony °.
20 Sir William Temple's Essays.

Father Malbranche's Search after Truth, translated into

A book of Novels.

The Academy of Compliments.

Culpepper's Midwifery.

The Ladies' Calling.

Tales in verse by Mr. Durfey : bound in red leather, gilt on
the back, and doubled down in several places.

All the Classic authors, in wood.
30 A set of Elzevirs by the same hand

Clelia : which opened of itself in the place that describes two
lovers in a bower.

Baker's Chronicle.

Advice to a Daughter.

The New Atalantis, with a key to it.

Mr. Steele's Christian Hero.

A Prayer-book : with a bottle of Hungary water by the side
of it.

Dr. Sacheverell's Speech.




as upon her larks and nightingales : for she says that every bird
which is killed in her ground will spoil a concert, and that she
shall certainly miss him the next year.

When I think how oddly this lady is improved by learning, I
look upon her with a mixture of admiration and pity. Amidst
these innocent entertainments which she has formed to herself
how much more valuable does she appear than those of her sex,
who employ themselves in diversions that are less reasonable,
though more in fashion ? What improvements would a woman
lo have made, who is so susceptible of impressions from what she
reads, had she been guided to such books as have a tendency to
enlighten the understanding and rectify the passions, as well as to
those which are of little more use than to divert the imagination!
But the manner of a lady's employing herself usefully in
reading shall be the subject of another paper, in which I design
to reconunend such particular books as may be proper for the
improvement of the sex. And as this is a subject of a very
nice nature, I shall desire my correspondents to give me their
thoughts upon it — C.

No. 92. Books suggested for the Lad^s Library; the SpectoAw
will take time to examine them, '

Convivae prope dissentire videntur,
Poscentes vario multum diversa palato;
Quid dera? Quid non dem?

^ HoR. Epist. ii. 2. 6i.

20 Looking over the late packets of letters which have been
sent to me, I found the following one.
*Mr. Spectator,
Your paper is a part of my tea-equipage ; and my servant
knows my humour so well, that, calling for my breakfast this
morning (it being past my usual hour), she answered, the
Spectator was. not yet come in ; but that the tea-kettle boiled,
and she expected it every moment. Having thus in part
signified to you the esteem and veneration which I have for you,
I must put you in mind of the catalogue of books which you
30 have promised to recommend to our sex ; for I have deferred
furnishing my closet with authors, till I receive your advice in
this particular, being your daily disciple and humble servant,

* Leonora.'

y Google


In answer to my fair disciple, whom I am very proud of, I
must acquaint her and the rest of my readers, that since I have
called out for help in my catalogue of a lady's library, I have
received many letters upon that head, some of which I shall give
an account of.

In the iirst class I shall take notice of those which come to me
from eminent booksellers, who every one of them mention with
respect the authors they have printed, and consequently have an
eye to their own advantage more than to that of the ladies.
10 One tells me, that he thinks it absolutely necessary for women
to have true notions of right and equity, and that therefore they
cannot peruse a better book than Dalton*s Country Justice:
Another thinks they cannot be without The Complete Jockey.
A third, observing the curiosity and desire of prying into secrets,
which he tells me is natural to the fair sex, is of opinion this
female inclination, if well directed, might turn very much to
their advantage, and therefore recommends to me Mr. Mede
upon the Revelations '^. A fourth lays it down as an unquestioned
truth, that a lady cannot be thoroughly accomplished who has
20 not read The Secret Treaties and Negotiations of Marshal
d*Estrades ^. Mr. Jacob Tonson, jun., is of opinion, that Bayle's
Dictionary might be of very great use to the ladies, in order to
make them general scholars. Another, whose name I have for-
gotten, thinks it highly proper that every woman with child
should read Mr. Wall's History of Infant Baptism ^ ; as another
is very importunate with me to recommend to all my female
readers The Finishing Stroke ; being a Vindication of the Patri-
archal Scheme, &c. ^
In the second class I shall mention books which are recom-
30 mended by husbands, if I may believe the writers of them.
Whether or no they are real husbands or personated ones I
cannot tell, but the books they recommend are as follow. j1
Paraphrase on the History of Susanna. Rules to keep Lent, The
Chn4tian*j Overthrow prevented. A Dissuasive from the Play^
house, Ihe Virtues of Camphirey with Directions to make Camphire
Tea. 7be pleasures of a Country Life, The Government of the
'tongue, A letter dated from Cheapside desires me that I would
advise all young wives to make themselves mistresses of Wingate's
Arithmetic, and concludes with a postscript, that he hopes
40 I will not forget The Countess of Kent's Receipts.

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I may reckon the ladies themselves as a third class among
these my correspondents and privy-counsellors. In a letter from
one of them, I am advised to place Pharamond^ at the head of
my catalogue, and, if I think proper, to give the second place to
Cassandra. Goquetilla begs me not to think of nailing women
upon their knees with manuals of devotion, nor of scorching their
faces with books of housewifery. Florella desires to know if
there are any books written against prudes, and intreats me, if

Online LibraryJoseph AddisonAddison; selections from Addison's papers contributed to the Spectator; → online text (page 26 of 54)