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Unwilling I forsook your friendly state!
I was awakened very early this morning by the distant crowing of a cock, which I thought had the finest pipe I ever heard. He seemed to me to strain his voice more than ordinary, as if he designed to make himself heard to the remotest corner of the lane. Having entertained myself a little before I went to bed with a discourse on the transmigration of men into other animals, I could not but fancy that this was the soul of some drowsy bellman who used to sleep upon his post, for which he was compelled to do penance in feathers, and distinguish the several watches of the night under the outside of a cock. While I was thinking of the condition of this poor bellman in masquerade, I heard a great knocking at my door, and was soon after told by my maid, that my worthy friend, the tall black gentleman, who frequents the coffee houses hereabouts, desired to speak with me. This ancient Pythagorean: who has as much honesty as any man living, but good nature to an excess, brought me the following petition; which I am apt to believe he penned himself, the petitioner not being able to express his mind on paper under his present form, however famous he might have been for writing verses when he was in his original shape.
ΤΟ ISAAC BICKERSTAFF, ESQUIRE, CENSOR OF
The humble petition of Job Chanticleer, in behalf of himself, and many other poor sufferers in the same condition;
From my Coop in Clare-market,
dition into your tender consideration, who otherwise must suffer with many thousands more as innocent as himself, that inhuman barbarity of a Shrove Tuesday persecution. We humbly hope that our courage and vigilance may plead for us on this oc
"Your poor petitioner most earnestly implores your immediate protection from the insolence of the rabble, the batteries of cat-sticks, and a painful lingering death,
And your petitioner, &c.' Upon delivery of this petition, the worthy gentleman, who presented it, told me the customs of many wise natious of the east, through which he had travelled; that nothing was more frequent than to see a dervise lay out a whole year's income in the redemption of larks or linnets that had unhappily fallen into the hands of bird-catchers; that it was also usual to run between a dog and a bull to keep them from hurting one another, or to lose the use of a limb in parting a couple of furious mastills. He then insisted upon the ingratitude and disingenuity of treating in this manner a necessary and domestic animal, that has made the whole house keep good hours, and called up the cook-maid for five years together. What would a Turk say,' continued he, 'should he hear, that it is a common entertainment in a nation, which pretends to be one of the most civilized in Europe, to tie an innocent animal to a stake, and put him to an ignominious death, who has perhaps been the guardian and proveditor of a poor family, as long as he was able to get eggs 'for his mistress?'
I thought what this gentleman said was very reasonable; and have often wondered, that we do not lay aside a custom, which makes us appear barbarous to nations much more rude and unpolished than ourselves. Some French writers have represented this diversion of the common people much to our disadvantage, and imputed it to natural fierceness and cruelty of temper; as they do some other entertainments peculiar to our nation: I mean those elegant diversions of bull-baiting and prize-fighting, with the like ingenious recreations of the Beargarden. I wish I knew how to answer this reproach which is cast upon us, and excuse the death of so many innocent cocks, bulis, dogs, and bears, as have been set together by the ears, or died untimely deaths, only to make us sport.
It will be said, that these are the entertainments of common people. It is true; but they are the entertainments of no other common people. Besides, I am afraid, there is a tincture of the same savage spirit in the diversions of those of higher rank, and more refined relish. Rapin observes, that the English theatre very much delights in bloodshed, which he likewise represents as an indication of our tempers. I must own, there is something very horrid in the public executions of an English tragedy. Stabbing and poisoning, which are performed behind the scenes in other nations, must be done openly among us, to gratify the audience.
SHEWETH, "That whereas your petitioner is truly descended When poor Sandford was upon the stage, I have of the ancient family oof the Chanticleers, at Cock-seen him groaning upon a wheel, stuck with daghall near Rumford in Essex, it has been his misfor-gers, impaled alive, calling his executioners, with a tune to come into the mercenary hands of a certain ill-disposed person, commonly called a higgler, who, under the close confinement of a pannier, has con veyed him and many others up to London; but hearing by chance of your worship's great humanity towards robin-red -breasts and tom-tits, he is emboldened to beseech you to take his deplorable conTHE TATLER. No. 27
dying voice, cruel dogs and villains!' and all this to please his judicious spectators, who were wonderfully delighted with seeing a man in torment so well acted. The truth of it is, the politeness of our English stage, in regard to decorum, is very ex. traordinary. We act murders, to show our intrepidity; and adulteries, to show our gallantry: both
of them are frequent in our most taking plays, with this difference only, that the former are done in the sight of the audience, and the latter wrought up to such a height upon the stage, that they are almost put in execution before the actors can get behind the
endeavour, by a little trash of words and sophistry, to weaken and destroy those very principles, for the vindication of which, freedom of thought at first became laudable and heroic. These apostates from reason and good sense, can look at the glorious frame of nature, without paying an adoration to Him I would not have it thought, that there is just that raised it; can consider the great revolutions in ground for those consequences which our enemies the universe, without lifting up their minds to that draw against us from these practices; but methinks superior power which hath the direction of it; can one would be sorry for any manner of occasion for presume to censure the Deity in his ways towards such m srepresentations of us. The virtues of ten-men; can level mankind with the beasts that perish; derness, compassion, and humility, are those by can extinguish in their own minds all the pleasing which men are distinguished from brutes, as much hopes of a future state, and lull themselves into a as by reason itself; and it would be the greatest re-stupid security against the terrors of it. If one were proach to a nation, to distinguish itself from all to take the word priesteraft out of the mouths of others by any defect in these particular virtues. these shallow monsters, they would be immediately For which reasons, I hope that my dear country-struck dumb. It is by the help of this single term men will no longer expose themselves by an effusion that they endeavour to disappoint the good works of of blood, whether it be of theatrical heroes, cocks, or the most learned and venerable order of men, and any other innocent animals, which we are not harden the hearts of the ignorant against the very obliged to slaughter for our safety, convenience, or light of nature, and the common-received notions of nourishment. When any of these ends are not mankind. We ought not to treat such miscreants as served in the destruction of a living creature, I these upon the foot of fair disputants; but to pour cannot but pronounce it a great piece of cruelty, if out contempt upon them, and speak of them with not a kind of murder. scorn and infamy, as the pests of society, the revilers of human nature, and the blasphemers of a Being, whom a good man would rather die than hear dishonoured. Cicero, after having mentioned the great heroes of knowledge and recommended this Quòd si in hoc erro, quòd animos hominum im-divine doctrine of the immortality of the soul, calls mortales esse credam, libenter erro; nec mihi hunc errorem, quo delector, dum vivo, extorqueri volo: sin mortuus, ut quidam minuti philosophi censent, nihil sentiam; non vereor, ne hunc errorem meum mortui philosophi irrideant.
No. 135.] SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 1709-10.
Cicero, De Senect. "But if I err in believing that the souls of men are immortal, I willingly err; nor while I live would I wish to have this delightful error extorted from me: and if after death I shall feel nothing, as some minute philosophers think, I am not afraid lest deal philosophers should laugh at me for the error."
Sheer-lane, February 17.
SEVERAL letters, which I have lately received, give me information, that some well-disposed persons have taken offence at .my using the word Freethinker as a term of reproach. To set, therefore, this matter in a clear light, I must declare, that no one can have a greater veneration than myself for the Free-thinkers of antiquity; who acted the same part in those times, as the great men of the reformation did in several nations of Europe, by exerting themselves against the idolatry and superstition of the times in which they lived. It was by this noble impulse that Socrates and his disciples, as well as all the philosophers of note in Greece; and Cicero, Seneca, with all the learned men of Rome, endeavoured to enlighten their contemporaries amidst the darkness and ignorance in which the world was then sunk and buried.
The great points which these free-thinkers endeavoured to establish and inculcate in the minds of men, were, the formation of the universe, the superintendency of providence, the perfection of the Divine Nature, the immortality of the soul, and the future state of rewards and punishments. They all complied with the religion of their country, as much as possible, in such particulars as did not contradict and pervert these great and fundamental doctrines of mankind. On the contrary, the persons who now set up for free-thinkers, are such as
those small pretenders to wisdom, who declared against it, certain minute philosophers, using a diminutive even of the word little, to express the despicable opinion he had of them. The contempt he throws upon them in another passage is yet more remarkable; where, to show the mean thoughts he entertains of them, he declares he would rather be
in the wrong with Plato, than in the right with such company? There is, indeed, nothing in the world so ridiculous as one of these grave philosophical tites to gratify, no heats of blood, nor vigour of confree-thinkers, that hath neither passions nor appestitution, that can turn his systems of infidelity to his advantage, or raise pleasures out of them which are inconsistent with the belief of a hereafter. One that has neither wit, gallantry, mirth, or youth, to indulge by these notions, by only a poor, joyless, uncomfortable vanity of distinguishing himself from the rest of mankind is rather to be regarded as a mischievous lunatic, than a mistaken philosopher. A chaste infidel, a speculative libertine, is an animal that I should not believe to be in nature, did I not sometimes meet with this species of men, that plead for the indulgence of their passions in the midst of a severe studious life, and talk against the immortality of the soul over a dish of coffee.
I would fain ask a minute philosopher, what good he proposes to mankind by the publishing of his doctrines? Will they make a man a better citizen, or father of a family; a more endearing husband, friend, or son? will they enlarge his public or private virtues, or correct any of his frailties or vices? What is there either joyful or glorious in such opinions? do they either refresh or enlarge our thoughts? do they contribute to the happiness, or raise the dignity, of human nature? The only good that I have ever heard protended to, is, that they banish terrors, and set the mind at ease. But whose terrors do they banish? It is certain, if there were any strength in their arguments, they would give great disturbance to minds that are influenced by virtue, honour, and morality, and take from us the
only comforts and supports of affliction, sickness, and old age. The minds, therefore, which they set at ease, are only those of impenitent criminals and malefactors, and which, to the good of mankind, should be in perpetual terror and alarm.
I must confess, nothing is more usual than for a free-thinker, in proportion as the insolence of scepticism is abated in him by years and knowledge, or humbled and beaten down by sorrow or sickness, to reconcile himself to the genteel conceptions of reasonable creatures; so that we frequently see the apostates turning from their revolt towards the end of their lives, and employing the refuse of their parts in promoting those truths which they had before endeavoured to invalidate.
The history of a gentleman in France is very well known, who was so zealous a promoter of infidelity, that he had got together a select company of disciples, and travelled into all parts of the kingdom to make converts. In the midst of his fantastical success he fell sick, and was reclaimed to such a sense of his condition, that after he had passed some time in great agonies and horrors of mind, he begged those who had the care of burying him, to dress his body in the habit of a capuchin, that the devil might not run away with it; and, to do further justice upon himself, desired them to tie a halter about his neck, as a mark of that ignominious punishment, which, in his own thoughts, he had so justly deserved.
I would not have persecution so far disgraced, as to wish these vermin might be animadverted on by any legal penalties; though I think it would be highly reasonable, that those few of them who die in the professons of their infidelity, should have such tokens of infamy fixed upon them, as might distinguish those bodies which are given up by the owners to oblivion and putrefaction, from those which rest in hope, and shall rise in glory But at the same time that I am against doing them the honour of the notice of our laws, which ought not to suppose there are such criminals in being, I have often wondered, how they can be tolerated in any mixed conversations, while they are venting these absurd opinions; and should think, that if, on any such occasions, half a dozen of the most robust Christians in the company would lead one of those gentlemen to a pump, or convey him into a blanket, they would do very good service both to church and state. I do not know how the law stands in this particular; but I hope, whatever knocks, bangs, or thumps, might be given with such an honest intention, would not be construed as a breach of the peace. I dare say, they would not be returned by the person who receives them; for, whatever these fools may say in the vanity of their hearts, they are too wise to risk their lives upon the uncertainty of their opinions.
When I was a young man about this town, I frequented the ordinary of the Black Horse in Holborn, where the person that usually presided at the table was a rough old-fashioned gentleman, who, according to the customs of those times, had been the major and preacher of a regiment. It happened one day that a noisy young officer, bred in France, was venting some new-fangled notions, and speaking, in the gaiety of his humour, against the dispensations of Providence. The major, at first, only desired him to talk more respectfully of one for whom all the company had an honour; but, finding him run on in his extravagance, began to reprimand him after a more serious manner. Young man,' said he, do not abuse your Benefactor whilst you are eating his bread. Consider whose air you breathe, whose pre
sence you are in, and who it is that gave you the power of that very speech which you make use of to his dishonour. The young fellow, who thought to turn matters into a jest, asked him, if he was going to preach? but at the same time desired him to take care what he said when he spoke to a man of honour' A man of honour!' says the major; thou art an infidel and a blasphemer, and I shall use thee as such.' In short, the quarrel ran so high, that the major was desired to walk out. Upon their coming into the garden, the old fellow advised his antagonist to consider the place into which one pass might drive him; but, finding him grow upon him to a degree of scurrility, as believing the advice proceeded from fear; Sirrah,' says he, if a thunderbolt does not strike thee dead before I come at thec, I shall not fail to chastise thee for thy profaneness to thy Maker, and thy sauciness to his servant.' Upon this he drew his sword, and cried out with a loud voice, The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!' which so terrified his antagonist, that he was immediately disarmed, and thrown upon his knees. this posture he begged his life; but the major refused to grant it, before he had asked pardon for his offence in a short extemporary prayer, which the old gentleman dictated to him upon the spot, and which his proselyte repeated after him in the presence of the whole ordinary, that were now gathered about him in the garden.
BECAUSE I have a professed aversion to long beginnings of stories, I will go into this at once, by telling you, that there dwells near the Royal Exchange as happy a couple as ever entered into wedlock. These live in that mutual confidence of each other, which renders the satisfaction of marriage even greater than those of friendship, and makes wife and husband the dearest appellations of human life. Mr. Balance is a merchant of good consideration, and understands the world, not from speculation, but practice. His wife is the daughter of an honest house, ever bred in a family-way; and has, from a natural good understanding, and great innocence, a freedom which men of sense know to be the certain sign of virtue, and fools take to be an encouragement to vice.
Tom Varnish, a young gentleman of the Middle Temple, by the bounty of a good father, who was so obliging as to die, and leave him, in his twentyfourth year, besides a good estate, a large sum which lay in the hands of Mr. Balance, had by this means an intimacy at his house; and, being one of those hard students who read plays for the improvement in the law, took his rules of life from thence. Upon mature deliberation, he conceived it very proper, that he, as a man of wit and pleasure of the town, should have an intrigue with his merchant's wife. He no sooner thought of this adventure, but he began it by an amorous epistle to the lady, and a faithful promise to wait upon her at a certain hour the next evening, when he knew her husband was to be absent.
The letter was no sooner received, but it was com
municated to the husband, and produced no other of the enemy. During the whole winter, the mitis, effect in him than that he joined with his wife to ters of France have used their utmost skill in formraise all the mirth they could out of this fantastical ing such answers as might amuse the allies, in hopes piece of gallantry. They were so little concerned at of a favourable event either in the north or some this dangerous man of mode, that they plotted ways other part of Europe, which might affect some part to perplex him without hurting him. Varnish comes of the alliance too nearly to leave it in a capacity of exactly at his hour; and the lady's well acted con-adhering firmly to the interest of the whole. In all fusion at his entrance gave him opportunity to re- this transaction, the French king's own name has peat some couplets very fit for the occasion with very been as little made use of as possible; but the season much grace and spirit. His theatrical manner of of the year advancing too fast to admit of much making love was interrupted by an alarm of the longer delays in the present condition of France, husband's coming; and the wife, in a personated | Mons. Torcy, in the name of the king, sent a letter terror, beseeched him, if he had any value for the to Mons. Pettecum, wherein he says, 'That the honour of a woman that loved him, he would jump king is willing all the preliminary articles shall rest out of the window.' He did so, and fell upon feather-as they are during the treaty for the 37th. beds placed on purpose to receive him.
It is not to be conceived how great the joy of an amourous man is when he has suffered for his mistress, and is never the worse for it. Varnish the next day writ a most elegant billet, wherein he said all that imagination could form upon the occasion. He violently protested, going out of the window was no way terrible, but as it was going from her;' with several other kind expressions, which procured him a second assignation. Upon his second visit, he was conveyed by a faithful maid into her bed-chamber, and left there to expect the arrival of her mistress. But the wench, according to her instructions, ran in again to him, and locked the door after her to keep out her master. She had just time enough to convey the lover into a chest before she admitted the husband and his wife into the room.
Sheer-lane, February 20.
I have been earnestly solicited for a further term, for wearing the fardingal by several of the fair sex, but more especially by the following petitioners. The humble petition of Deborah Hark, Sarah Threadpaper, and Rachel Thimble, spinsters and single women, commonly called waiting-maids, in behalf of themselves and their sisterhood;
That your worship has been pleased to order and command, that no person or persons shall presume to wear quilted petticoats, on forfeiture of the said petticoats, or penalty of wearing ruffs, after the seventeenth instant now expired.
That your petitioners have, time out of mind, been entitled to wear their ladies' clothes, or to sell same.
That the sale of the said clothes is spoiled by your worship's said prohibition.
You may be sure that trunk was absolutely neces-the sary to be opened; but upon her husband's ordering it, she assured him, she had taken all the care imaginable in packing up the things with her own Your petitioners therefore most humbly pray, hands, and he might send the trunk abroad as soon that your worship will please to allow, that all genas he thought fit.' The easy husband believed his tlewomen's gentlewomen may be allowed to wear wife, and the good couple went to bed; Varnish the said dress, or to repair the loss of such a perqui having the happiness to pass the night in his mis-site in such manner as your worship shall think fit. tress's bed-chamber without molestation. The morn ing arose, but our lover was not well situate to observe her blushes; so that all we know of his sentiments on this occasion is, that he heard Balance ask for the key, and say, he would himself go with this chest, and have it opened before the captain of the ship, for the greater safety of so valuable a lading.'
The goods were hoisted away; and Mr. Balance, marching by his chest with great care and diligence, omitted nothing that might give his passenger perplexity. But, to consummate all, he delivered the chest, with strict charge, in case they were in danger of being taken, to throw it overboard, for there were letters in it, the matter of which might be of great service to the enemy.'
N.B. It is not thought advisable to proceed further in this account; Mr. Varnish being just returned from his travels, and willing to conceal the occasion of his first applying himself to the languages.
St. James's Coffee-house, Febrnary 20. This day came in a mail from Holland, with a confirmation of our late advices, that a treaty of peace would very suddenly be set on foot, and that yachts were appointed by the states to convey the ministers of France from Moerdyke to Gertruydenburgh, which is appointed for the place wherein this important negotiation is to be transacted. It is said, this affair has been in agitation ever since the close of the list campaign; Mons. Pette cum having been appointed to receive from time to time the overtures
And your petitioners, &c.'
I do allow the allegations of this petition to be just; and forbid all persons, but the petitioners, or those who shall purchase them, to wear the said garment after the date hereof.
No. 137.] THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 1709-10.
He thrice invokes th' infernal powers profound
Sheer-lane, February 22.
DICK Reptile and I sat this evening later than the rest of the club; and as some men are better company when only with one friend, others when there is a larger number, I found Dick to be of the former kind. He was bewailing to me, in very just terms, the offences which he frequently met with in the abuse of speech; some use ten times more words than they need; some put in words quite foreign to their purpose; and others adorn their discourses with oaths and blasphemies, by way of tropes and figures. What my good friend started dwelt upon me after I came home this evening, and led me into an enquiry with myself, whence should arise such strange excrescences in discourse? whereas it must be obvious to all reasonable beings, that the sooner a man speaks his mind, the more complaisant he is to the man with whom he talks; but, upon mature
deliberation, I am come to this resolution, that for one man who speaks to be understood, there are ten who talk only to be admired.
This gave me a perfect image of the insignificancy of the creatures who practise this enormity; and made me conclude, that it is ever want of sense makes a man guilty in this kind. It was excellently well said, 'that this folly had no temptation to excuse it, no man being born of a swearing constitution.' In a word, a few rumbling words and consonants clapped together without any sense, will make an accomplished swearer. It is needless to dwell long upon this blustering impertinence, which is already banished out of the society of well-bred men, and can be useful only to bullies and ill tragicwriters, who would have sound and noise pass for courage and sense.
St. James's Coffee-house, February 22.
wich, who left that place just as the Duke of Marl-
The ancient Greeks had little independent syllables called expletives, which they brought into their discourses both in verse and prose, for no other purpose but for the better grace and sound of their sentences and periods. I know no example but this, which can authorise the use of more words than are necessary. But whether it be from this freedom taken by that wise nation, or however it arises, Dick Reptile hit upon a very just and common cause of offence in the generality of people of all orders.We have one here in our lane, who speaks nothing without quoting an authority; for it is always with him, so and so, as the man said.' He asked me this morning, how I did, as the man said?' and hoped I would come now and then to see him, as the man said.' I am acquainted with another, who never delivers himself upon any subject, but he cries, he only speaks his poor judgment; this is his humble opinion; as for his part, if he might presume to offer any thing on that subject.' But of all the persons who add elegancies and superfluities to their discourses, those who deserve the foremost rank are the swearers; and the lump of these may, I think, be very aptly divided into the common distinction of high and low. Dulness and barrenness of thought is the original of it in both these sects, and they differ only in constitution. The low is generally a phlegmatic, and the high a choleric coxcomb. The man of phlegin is sensible of the empti- A conqueror drawn like the god of battle, with ness of his discourse, and will tell you, that, 'i'fack-such a dreadful leash of hell-hounds at his command, ins, such a thing is true; or, if you warm him a makes a picture of as much majesty and terror, as little, he may run into passion and cry, odsbodikins, is to be met with in any poet. you do not say right.' But the high affects a sublimity in dulness, and invokes 'hell and damnation' at the breaking of a glass, or the slowness of a drawer.
I was the other day trudging along Fleet-street on foot, and an old army-friend came up with me. We were both going towards Westminster; and, finding the streets were so crowded that we could not keep together, we resolved to club for a coach. This gentleman I knew to be the first of the order. of the choleric. I must confess, were there no crime in it, nothing could be more diverting than the impertinence of the high juror: for, whether there is remedy or not against what offends him, still he is to show he is offended; and he must, sure, not omit to be magnificently passionate, by falling on all things in his way. We were stopped by a train of coaches at Temple-bar. What the devil!' says my companion, cannot you drive on, coachman? D-n you all, for a set of sons of whores; you will stop here to be paid by the hour! There is not such a set of confounded dogs as the coachmen unhanged! But these rascally cits-Ounds, why should not there be a tax to make these dogs widen their gates? Oh! but the hell-hounds move at last.' 'Ay,' said I, I knew you would make them whip on, if once they heard you.'No,' says he, but would it not fret a man to the devil, to pay for being carried slower than he can walk? Look ye! there is for ever a stop at this hole by St. Clement's church. Blood, you dog! Hark ye, sirrah!—Why, and be dd to you, do not you drive over that fellow? Thunder, furies, and damnation! I will cut your ears off, you fellow before thereCome hither, you dog you, and let me wring your neck round your shoulders.' We had a repetition of the same eloquence at the Cockpit, and the turning into Palace-yard.
'Oh for a muse of fire!
Then should the warlike Harry like himself,
Crouch for employments.'
Shakspeare understood the force of this particular allegory so well, that he had it in his thoughts in another passage, which is altogether as daring and sublime as the former. What I mean is in the tra gedy of Julius Caesar, where Antony, after having foretold the bloodshed and destruction that should be brought upon the earth by the death of that great man, to fill up the horror of his description, adds the following verses:
"And Caesar's spirit, raging for revenge, With Ate by his side, come hot from hell, Shall in these confines, with a monarch's voice, Cry havock: and let slip the dogs of war.' I do not question but these quotations will call to mind, in my readers of learning and taste, that ima ginary person described by Virgil with the same spirit. He mentions it upon the occasion of a peace which was restored to the Roman empire; and which we may now hope for from the departure of that great man, who has given occasion to these refiectious. The temple of Janus, says he, shall be shut, and in the midst of it military Fury shall sit upon a pile of broken arms, loaded with a hundred chains, bellowing with madness, and grinding his teeth in blood.
Claudentur belli portæ, Furor impius intus
Post tergum nodis, fremit horridus ore cruento.