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at every occurrence that is spoken of before me; this had led me into many inconveniences, but indeed they have been the fewer, because I am no ill-natured man, and never speak things to any man's disadvantage. I never directly defame, but I do what is as bad in the consequence, for I have often made a man say such and such a lively expression, who was born a mere elder brother. When one has said in my hearing, "such a one is no wiser than he should be," I immediately have replied, " Now 'faith, I cannot see that, he said a very good thing to my lord such-a-one, upon such an occasion, and the like." Such an honest dolt as this has been watched in every expression he uttered, upon my recommendation of him, and consequently been subject to the more ridicule. I once endeavoured to cure myself of this impertinent quality, and resolved to hold my tongue for seven days together; I did so, but then I had so many winks and unnecessary distortions of my face upon what any body else said, that I found I only forebore the expression, and that I still lied in my heart to every man I met with. You are to know one thing (which I believe you will say is a pity, considering the use I should have made of it) I never travelled in my life; but I do not know whether I could have spoken of any foreign country with more familiarity than I do at present, in company who are strangers to me. I have cursed the inns in Germany; commended the brothels at Venice; the freedom of conversation in France; and though I never was out of this dear town, and fifty miles about it, have been three nights together dogged by bravoes, for an intrigue with a cardinal's mistress at Rome.
'It were endless to give you particulars of this kind; but I can assure you, Mr. Spectator, there
are about twenty or thirty of us in this town; I mean by this town the cities of London and Westminster; I say there are in town a sufficient number of us to make a society among ourselves; and since we cannot be believed any longer, I beg of you to print this my letter, that we may meet together, and be under such regulation as there may be no occasion for belief or confidence among us. If you think fit, we might be called "the historians," for liar is become a very harsh word. And that a member of the society may not hereafter be ill received by the rest of the world, I desire you would explain a little this sort of men, and not let us historians be ranked, as we are in the imaginations of ordinary people, among common liars, make-bates, impostors, and incendiaries. For your instruction herein, you are to know that an historian in conversation is only a person of so pregnant a fancy, that he cannot be contented with ordinary occurrences. I know a man of quality of our order, who is of the wrong side of fortythree, and has been of that age, according to Tully's jest, for some years since, whose vein is upon the romantic. Give him the least occasion, and he will tell you something so very particular that happened in such a year, and in such company, where by the by was present such a one, who was afterwards made such a thing-Out of all these circumstances, in the best language in the world, he will join together with such probable incidents an account that shews a person of the deepest penetration, the honestest mind, and withal something so humble when he speaks of himself, that you would admire. Dear sir, why should this be lying! there is nothing so instructive. He has withal the gravest aspect; something so very venerable and great! Another of
these historians is a young man whom we would take in, though he extremely wants parts; as people send children (before they can learn any thing) to school, to keep them out of harm's way.
He tells things which have nothing at all in them, and can neither please nor displease, but merely take up your time to no manner of purpose, no manner of delight; but he is good-natured, and does it because he loves to be saying something to you, and entertain you.
'I could name you a soldier that hath done very great things without slaughter; he is prodigiously dull and slow of head, but what he can say is for ever false, so that we must have him.
'Give me leave to tell you of one more, who is a lover; he is the most afflicted creature in the world, lest what happened between him and a great beauty should ever be known. Yet again he comforts himself" Hang the jade her woman. If money can keep the slut trusty I will do it, though I mortgage every acre; Anthony and Cleopatra for that; all for love and the world well lost."
'Then, sir, there is my little merchant, honest Indigo of the 'Change, there is my man for loss and gain; there is tare and tret, there is lying all round the globe; he has such a prodigious intelligence, he knows all the French are doing, or what we intend or ought to intend, and has it from such hands. But, alas, whither am I running! while I complain, while I remonstrate to you, even all this is a lie, and there is not one such person of quality, lover, soldier, or merchant, as I have now described in the whole world, that I know of. But I will catch myself once in my life, and in spite of nature speak one truth, to wit, that
Your humble servant, &c.'
No. 137. TUESDAY, AUGUST 7, 1711.
At hæc etiam servis semper libera fuerunt, timerent, gauderent, dolerent, suo potius quam alterius arbitrio. TULL. Epist.
Even slaves were always at liberty to fear, rejoice, and grieve, at their own rather than another's pleasure. It is no small concern to me, that I find so many complaints from that part of mankind whose portion it is to live in servitude, that those whom they depend upon will not allow them to be even as happy as their condition will admit of. There are, as these unhappy correspondents inform me, masters who are offended at a cheerful countenance, and think a servant is broke loose from them, if he does not preserve the utmost awe in their presence. There is one who says, if he looks satisfied, his master asks him, what makes him so pert this morning;' if a little sour, Hark ye, sirrah, are not you paid your wages? The poor creatures live in the most extreme misery together; the master knows not how to preserve respect, nor the servant how to give it. It seems this person is of so sullen a nature, that he knows but little satisfaction in the midst of a plentiful fortune, and secretly frets to see any appearance of content in one that lives upon the hundredth part of his income, while he is unhappy in the possession of the whole. Uneasy persons, who cannot possess their own minds, vent their spleen upon all who depend upon them; which, I think, is expressed in a lively manner in the following letters.
August 2, 1711.
'I HAVE read your Spectator of the third of the last month, and wish I had the happiness
of being preferred to serve so good a master as Sir Roger. The character of my master is the very reverse of that good and gentle knight's. All his directions are given, and his mind revealed by way of contraries: as when any thing is to be remembered, with a peculiar cast of face he cries "Be sure to forget now." If I am to make haste back, "Do not come these two hours; be sure to call by the way upon some of your companions." Then another excellent way of his is, if he sets me any thing to do, which he knows must necessarily take up half a day, he calls ten times in a quarter of an hour to know whether I have done yet. This is his manner; and the same perverseness runs through all his actions, according as the circumstances vary. Besides all this, he is so suspicious, that he submits himself to the drudgery of a spy. He is as unhappy himself as he makes his servants: he is constantly watching us, and we differ no more in pleasure and liberty than as a gaoler and a prisoner. He lays traps for faults, and no sooner makes a discovery, but falls into such language, as I am more ashamed of for coming from him, than for being directed to me. This, sir, is a short sketch of a master I have served upwards of nine years; and though I have never wronged him, I confess my despair of pleasing him has very much abated my endeavour to do it. If you will give me leave to steal a sentence out of my master's Clarendon, I shall tell you my case in a word, "being used worse than I deserved, I cared less to deserve well than I had done."
I am, SIR,
Your humble servant,