dient to mend the breed, and rectify the physiognomy of the family on both sides. And again, as she is a lady of a very fluent elocution, you need not fear that your child will be born dumb, which otherwise you might have some reason to be apprehensive of. To be plain with you, I can see nothing shocking in it; for though she has not a face like a john-apple, yet as a late friend of mine, who at sixty-five ventured on a lass of fifteen, very frequently, in the remaining five years of his life. gave me to understand, that as old as he then seemed, when they were first married he and his spouse could make but fourscore; so may madam Hecatissa very justly allege hereafter, that as long visaged as she may then be thought, upon their wedding-day Mr. Spectator and she had but half an ell of face betwixt them; and this my worthy predecessor, Mr. Serjeant Chin, always maintained to be no more than the true oval proportion between man and wife. But as this may be a new thing to you, who have hitherto had no expectations from women, I shall allow you what time you think fit to consider on it; not without some hope of seeing at last your thoughts hereupon subjoined to mine, and which is an honour much desired by,

[blocks in formation]

You proposed in your Spectator of last Tuesday, Mr. Hobbes's hypothesis for solving that very old phænomenon of laughter. You have made the hypothesis valuable by espousing it yourself; for had it continued Mr. Hobbes's nobody would have minded it. Now here this perplexed case arises. A certain company laughed very heartily upon the reading of that very paper of yours; and the truth on it is, he must be a man of more than ordinary constancy that could stand out against so much comedy, and not do as we did. Now there are few men in the world so far lost to all good sense, as to look upon you to be a man in a state of folly "inferior to himself." Pray then how do you justify your hypothesis of laughter? "Your most humble, 'Thursday, the 26th of the month of fools.'


Q. R.

[blocks in formation]



I Am glad I can inform you, that your ende vours to adorn that sex, which is the fairest på of the visible creation, are well received, and li to prove not unsuccessful. The triumph of Daph over her sister Lætitia has been the subject conversation at several tea-tables where I ha been present; and I have observed the fair cir not a little pleased to find you considering them reasonable creatures, and endeavouring to ban that Mahometan custom, which had too much pr vailed even in this island, of treating women as they had no souls. I must do them the justice say, that there seems to be nothing wanting to t finishing of these lovely pieces of human natur besides the turning and applying their ambiti properly, and the keeping them up to a sense what is their true merit. Epictetus, that plain h nest philosopher, as little as he had of gallantr appears to have understood them, as well as t polite St. Evremont, and has hit this point ver luckily. "When young women," says he, rive at a certain age, they hear themselves calle Mistresses, and are made to believe, that their on business is to please the men; they immediatel begin to dress, and place all their hopes in t adorning of their persons; it is therefore,” co tinues he, "worth the while to endeavour by a means to make them sensible, that the honour pai to them is only upon account of their conductin themselves with virtue, modesty, and discretion."


Now to pursue the matter yet further, and t render your cares for the improvement of the fai ones more effectual, I would propose a new me thod, like those applications which are said t convey their virtue by sympathy; and that is, tha in order to embellish the mistress, you should giv a new education to the lover, and teach the me not to be any longer dazzled by false charms and unreal beauty. I cannot but think that if our sex knew always how to place their esteem justly the other would not be so often wanting to them selves in deserving it. For as the being enamoured with a woman of sense and virtue is an improve ment to a man's understanding and morals, and the passion is ennobled by the object which inspires it so, on the other side, the appearing amiable to a man of a wise and elegant mind, carries in itself no small degree of merit and accomplishment. conclude, therefore, that one way to make the women yet more agreeable is, to make the men more virtuous. I am, SIR, "Your most humble servant,


'R. B. +' 'April 26. "YOURS of Saturday last ‡ I read, not without some resentment; but I will suppose when you say you expect an inundation of ribbons and brocades, and to see many new vanities which the women will fall into upon a peace with France, that you intend only the unthinking part of our sex; and what methods can reduce them to reason is hard to imagine.

But, sir, there are others yet, that your instructions might be of great use to, who, after their best endeavours, are sometimes at a loss to acquit themselves to a censorious world. I am far from

My correspondents grow so numerous, that I can thinking you can altogether disapprove of con

not avoid frequently inserting their applications

to me.

* See No 47.

• See N° 33

+ Hughes. See a preceding letter of his on the same subject, No 33.

* See N° 51.

[ocr errors]

ted shaped arm held a fan over her face. It was ave not in nature to command one's eyes from this obere ject. I could not avoid taking notice also of her vit, fan, which had on it various figures, very improom per to behold on that occasion. There lay in the ort body of the piece a Venus, under a purple canopy heir furled with curious wreaths of drapery, half naked, rld, attended with a train of Cupids, who were busied this in fanning her as she slept. Behind her was drawn as a satyr peeping over the silken fence, and threat

ening to break through it. I frequently offered to turn my sight another way, but was still detained by the fascination of the Peeper's eyes, who had long practised a skill in them, to recal the parting glances of her beholders. You see my complaint, and hope you will take these mischievous people, de- the Peepers, into your consideration. I doubt not the but you will think a Peeper as much more pernicious than a Starer, as an ambuscade is more to be feared than an open assault.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]





THOUGH Some may think we descend from our imperial dignity, in holding correspondence with a private litterato; yet as we have great respect to all good intentions for our service, we do not esteem it beneath us to return you our royal thanks for what you published in our behalf, while under confinement in the enchanted castle of the Savoy, and for your mention of a subsidy for a prince in misfortune. This your timely zeal has inclined the hearts of divers to be aiding unto us, if we could propose the means. We have taken their goodwill into consideration, and have contrived a method which will be easy to those who shall give the aid, and not unacceptable to us who receive it. A concert of music shall be prepared at Haberdasher's-ball, for Wednesday the second of May, and we will honour the said entertainment with our own presence, where each person shall be assessed but at two shillings and sixpence. What we expect from you is, that you publish these our royal intentions, with injunction that they be read re- at all tea-tables within the cities of London and for Westminster; and so we bid you heartily farethe well.



e, I


'Given at our court in Vinegar-yard, story the If third from the earth, April 28, 1711.'




to a







her Tof

[ocr errors]



f a

g to If



[ocr errors]

'I am, SIR,

"Your most obedient servant.'


[ocr errors]

N° 54. WEDNESDAY, MAY 2, 1711.

, I

as 1

as I

is a


Laborious idleness our pow'rs employs.


and THE following letter being the first that I have rehile ceived from the learned university of Cambridge,

Strenua nos exercet inertia.


* See No 22.

HOR. 1 Ep. xi. 29.

of I could not but do myself the honour of publishing As I it. It gives an account of a new sect of philososur- phers which has arose in that famous residence of f as learning; and is, perhaps, the only sect this age is the likely to produce.



'Cambridge, April 26. 'MR. SPECTATOR, 'BELIEVING you to be an universal encourager of liberal arts and sciences, and glad of any information from the learned world, I thought an account of a sect of philosophers, very frequent among us, but not taken notice of, as far as I can remember, by any writers, either ancient or modern, would not be unacceptable to you. The philosophers of this sect are in the language of our university called Loungers. I am of opinion, that, as in many other things, so likewise in this, the ancients have been defective; viz. in mentioning no philosophers of this sort. Some indeed will affirm that they are a kind of Peripatetics, because we see them continually walking about, But I would have these gentlemen consider, that though the ancient Peripatetics walked much, yet they wrote much also; witness, to the sorrow of this sect, Aristotle and others; whereas it is notorious that most of our professors never lay out a farthing either in pen, ink, or paper. Others are for deriving them from Diogenes, because several of the leading men of the sect have a great deal of cynical humour in them, and delight much in sunshine. But then, again, Diogenes was content to have his constant habitation in a narrow tub, whilst our philosophers are so far from being of his opinion, that it is death to them to be confined within the limits of a good handsome convenient chamber but for half an hour. Others there are, who from the clearness of their heads deduce the pedigree of Loungers from that great man (I think it was either Plato or Socrates) who, after all his study and learning, professed, that all he then knew was, that he knew nothing. You easily see this is but a shallow argument, and may be soon confuted.

'I have with great pains and industry made my observations, from time to time, upon these sages; and, having now all materials ready, am compiling a treatise, wherein I shall set forth the rise and progress of this famous sect, together with their maxims, austerities, manner of living, &c. Having prevailed with a friend who designs shortly to publish a new edition of Diogenes baertius, to add this treatise of mine by way of supplement; I shall now, to let the world see what may be expected from me (first begging Mr. Spectator's leave that the world may see it) briefly touch upon some of my chief observations, and then subscribe myself your humble servant. In the first place I shall give you two or three of their maxims; the fundamental one, upon which their whole system is built, is this, viz." That time being an implacable enemy to, and destroyer of all things, ought to be paid in his own coin, and be destroyed and murdered without mercy, by all the ways that can be invented." | Another favourite saying of theirs is, "That business was only designed for knaves, and study for blockheads." A third seems to be a ludicrous one, but has a great effect upon their lives; and is this, "That the devil is at home." Now for their manner of living and here I have a large field to expatiate in; but I shall reserve particulars for my intended discourse, and now only mention one or two of their principal exercises. The elder proficients employ themselves in inspecting mores hominum multorum, in getting acquainted with all the signs and windows in the town. Some are arrived to so great knowledge, that they can tell every time any butcher kills a calf, every time an old woman's cat is in the straw; and a thousand other matters

as important. One ancient philosopher contem plates two or three hours every day over a sundial; and is true to the dial,

"As the dial to the sun, Although it be not shone upon."

Our young students are content to carry their speculations as yet no further than bowling-greens, billiard-tables, and such like places. This may serve for a sketch of my design; in which I hope I shall have your encouragement. ' I am, SIR, yours.'

I must be so just as to observe, I have formerly seen of this sect at our other university; though not distinguished by the appellation which the learned historian, my correspondent, reports they bear at Cambridge. They were ever looked upon as a people that impaired themselves more by their strict application to the rules of their order, than any other students whatever. Others seldom hurt themselves any further than to gain weak eyes, and sometimes headaches; but these philosophers are seized all over with a general inability, indolence, and weariness, and a certain impatience of the place they are in, with an heaviness in removing to another.

The Loungers are satisfied with being merely part of the number of mankind, without distinguishing themselves from amongst them. They may be said rather to suffer their time to pass, than to spend it, without regard to the past, or prospect of the future. All they know of life is only the present instant, and do not taste even that. When one of this order happens to be a man of fortune, the expense of his time is transferred to his coach and horses, and his life is to be measured by their motion, not his own enjoyments or sufferings. The chief entertainment one of these philosophers can possibly propose to himself, is to get a relish of dress. This methinks might diversify the person he is weary of (his own dear self) to himself. I have known these two amusements make one of these philosophers make a tolerable figure in the world; with variety of dresses in public assemblies in town, and quick motion of his horses out of it, now to Bath, now to Tunbridge, then to Newmarket, and then to London, he has in process of time, brought it to pass, that his coach and his horses have been mentioned in all those places. When the Loungers leave an academic life, and, instead of this more elegant way of appearing in the polite world, retire to the seats of their ancestors, they usually join a pack of dogs, and employ their days in defending their poultry from foxes: I do not know any other method that any of this order has ever taken to make a noise in the world; but I shall inquire into such about this town as have arrived at the dignity of being Loungers by the force of natural parts, without having ever seen an uni versity; and send my correspondent, for the em bellishment of his book, the names and history of those who pass their lives without any incidents at all; and how they shift coffee-houses and chocolatehouses from hour to hour, to get over the insupportable labour of doing nothing.

[blocks in formation]

When a government flourishes in conquests, and is secure from foreign attacks, it naturally falls into all the pleasures of luxury; and as these pleasures are very expensive, they put those who are addicted to them upon raising fresh supplies of money, by all the methods of rapaciousness and corruption; so that avarice and luxury very often become one complicated principle of action, in those whose hearts are wholly set upon ease, magnificence, and pleasure. The most elegant and liv- correct of all the Latin historians observes, that her in his time, when the most formidable states of the ant. world were subdued by the Romans, the republic ne- sunk into those two vices of a quite different naice. ture, luxury and avarice: and accordingly deent scribes Catiline as one who coveted the wealth of unt other men, at the same time that he squandered bed away his own. This observation on the commonva- wealth, when it was in its height of power and t at riches, holds good of all governments that are setngstled in a state of ease and prosperity. At such times men naturally endeavour to outshine one another : in pomp and splendor, and having no fears to alarm them from abroad, indulge themselves in the enjoyment of all the pleasures they can get into their rge. possession; which naturally produces avarice, and an immoderate pursuit after wealth and riches.


As I was humouring myself in the speculation of these two great principles of action, I could not forbear throwing my thoughts into a little kind of allegory or fable, with which I shall here present my reader.

There were two very powerful tyrants engaged in a perpetual war against each other, the name of the first was Luxury, and of the second Avarice. The aim of each of them was no less than universal monarchy over the hearts of mankind. Luxury had many generals under him, who did him great service, as Pleasure, Mirth, Pomp, and Fashion. Avarice was likewise very strong in his officers, est. being faithfully served by Hunger, Industry, Care, and Watchfulness: he had likewise a privy-counsellor who was always at his elbow, and whispering something or other in his ear; the name of this privy-counsellor was Poverty. As Avarice conducted himself by the counsels of Poverty, his antagonist was entirely guided by the dictates and advice of Plenty, who was his first counsellor and minister of state, that concerted all his measures for him, and never departed out of his sight. While these two great rivals were thus contending for empire, their conquests were very various. Luxury got possession of one heart, and Avarice of another. The father of a family would often range himself under the banners of Avarice, and the son under those of Luxury. The wife and the husband would often declare themselves on the two different parties; nay, the same person would very often side with one in his youth, and revolt to the other in his old age. Indeed the wise men of the world stood neuter; but, alas! their numbers were not considerable. At length, when these two potentates had wearied themselves with waging war upon one another, they agreed upon an interview, at which none of their counsellors were to be present. It is said that Luxury began the parley, and after having represented the endless state of war in which they were engaged, told his enemy, with a frankness of heart which is natural to him, that he believed they two should be very good friends, were it not for the instigations of Poverty, that pernicious coun sellor, who made an ill use of bis ear, and filled hina



* Sallust.

with groundless apprehensions and prejudices. To | this Avarice replied, that he looked upon Plenty (the first minister of his antagonist) to be a much more destructive counsellor than Poverty, for that he was perpetually suggesting pleasures, banishing all the necessary cautions against want, and conse-pointed thorns, so perplexed and interwoven with quently undermining those principles on which the government of Avarice was founded. At last, in order to an accommodation, they agreed upon this preliminary; that each of them should immediately dismiss his privy-counsellor. When things were thus far adjusted towards a peace, all other differences were soon accommodated, insomuch that for the future they resolved to live as good friends and confederates, and to share between them whatever conquests were made on either side. For this reason, we now find Luxury and Avarice taking possession of the same heart, and dividing the same person between them. To which I shall only add, that since the discarding of the counsellors abovementioned, Avarice supplies Luxury in the room of Plenty, as Luxury prompts Avarice in the place of Poverty.

[blocks in formation]

THE Americans believe that all creatures have souls, not only men and women, but brutes, vegetables, nay even the most inanimate things, as stocks and stones. They believe the same of all the works of art, as of knives, boats, looking-glasses; and that as any of these things perish, their souls go into another world, which is inhabited by the ghosts of men and women. For this reason they always place by the corpse of their dead friend a bow and arrows, that he may make use of the souls of them in the other world, as he did of their wooden bodies in this. How absurd soever such an opinion as this may appear, our European philosophers have maintained several notions altogether as improbable. Some of Plato's followers in particular, when they talk of the world of ideas, entertain us with substances and beings no less extravagant and chimerical. Many Aristotelians have likewise spoken as unintelligibly of their substantial forms. I shall only instance Albertus Magnus, who in his dissertation upon the loadstone observing, that fire will destroy its magnetic virtues, tells us, that he took particular notice of one as it lay glowing amidst an heap of burning coals, and that he perceived a certain blue vapour to arise from it, which he believed might be the substantial form, that is, in our West Indian phrase, the soul of the loadstone.

There is a tradition among the Americars, that one of their countrymen descended in a vision to the great repository of souls, or, as we call it here, to the other world; and that upon his return he gave his friends a distinct account of every thing he saw among those regions of the dead. A friend of mine, whom I have formerly mentioned, prevailed upon one of the interpreters of the Indian kings, to inquire of them, if possible, what tradition they have among them of this matter; which, as well as he could learn by those many questions which he asked them at several times, was in substance as follows:

See No 50, and Tat. N° 171.

The visionary, whose name was Marraton, after having travelled for a long space under an hollow mountain, arrived at length on the confines of this world of spirits, but could not enter it by reason of a thick forest made up of bushes, brambles, and one another, that it was impossible to find a passage through it. Whilst he was looking about for some track or path-way that might be worn in any part of it, he saw a huge lion couched under the side of it, who kept his eye upon him in the same posture as when he watches for his prey. The Indian immediately started back, whilst the lion rose with a spring, and leaped towards him. Being wholly destitute of all other weapons, he stooped down to take up av huge stone in his hand; but to his insinite surprise grasped nothing, and found the supposed stone to be only the apparition of one. If he was disappointed on this side, he was as much pleased on the other, when he found the lion, which had seized on his left shoulder, had no power to hurt him, and was only the ghost of that ravenous creature which it appeared to be. He no sooner got rid of his impotent enemy, but he marched up to the wood, and after having surveyed it for some time, endeavoured to press into one part of it that was a little thinner than the rest; when again, to his great surprise, he found the bushes made no resistance, but that he walked through briers and brambles with the same ease as through the open air; and, in short, that the whole wood was nothing else but a wood of shades. He immediately concluded, that this huge thicket of thorns and brakes was designed as a kind of fence or quickset hedge to the ghosts it enclosed; and that probably their soft substances might be torn by these subtle points and prickles, which were too weak to make any impressions in flesh and blood. With this thought he resolved to travel through this intricate wood; when by degrees he felt a gale of perfumes breathing upon him, that grew stronger and sweeter in proportion as he advanced. He had not proceeded much further, when he observed the thorus and briers to end, and give place to a thousand beautiful green trees covered with blossoms of the finest scents and colours, that formed a wilderness of sweets, and were a kind of lining to those rugged scenes which he had before passed through. As he was coming out of this delightful part of the wood, and entering upon the plains it enclosed, he saw several horsemen rushing by him, and a little while after heard the cry of a pack of dogs. He had not listened long before he saw the apparition of a milk-white steed, with a young man on the back of it, advancing upon full stretch after the souls of about an hundred beagles, that were hunting down the ghost of an hare, which ran away before them with an unspeakable swiftness. As the man on the milk-white steed came by him, he looked upon him very attentively, and found him to be the young prince Nicharagua, who died about half a year before, and by reason of his great virtues was at that time lamented over all the western parts of America.

He had no sooner got out of the wood, but he was entertained with such a landscape of flowery plains, green meadows, running streams, sunny hills, and shady vales, as were not to be represented by his own expressions, nor, as he said, by the conceptions of others. This happy region was peopled with innumerable swarms of spirits, who applied themselves to exercises and diversions, according as their fancies led them. Some of them were tossing the figure of a coit; others were pitching

« VorigeDoorgaan »