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It has been often observed by witty essay writers, that the deepest waters are always the most silent; that empty vessels make the greatest sound; and tinkling cymbals the worst music. The marquis of Halifax, in his admirable Advice to a daughter,' tells her, that good-sense has always something sullen in it but as sullenness does not imply silence, but an ill-natured silence, I wish his lordship had given a softer name to it. Since I am en
There are two species of men, notwithstanding any thing that has been here said, whom I would exempt from the disgrace of the elbow-gaged unawares in quotations, I must not omit the satire which Horace has written against this impertinent talkative companion; and which, I think, is fuller of humour than any other satire he has written. This great author, who had the nicest taste of conversation, and was himself a most agreeable companion, bad so strong an antipathy to a great talker, that he was afraid some time or other it would be described it in his conversation with an immortal to him; as he has very humorously pertinent fellow, who had like to have been the death of him.
meeting over a bottle, there be always an elbow.
chair. The first are those buffoons that have
-Lingua centum sunt, oràque centum.
And, therefore, would give him as much time
Interpellandi locus hic erat! Est tibi mater,
Cognati, quies te salvo est opus? Haud mihi quisquam.
'I would likewise, in the second place, grant an exemption from the elbow-chair to any person who treats the company, and by that means may be supposed to pay for his audience. A guest cannot take it ill, if he be not allowed to talk in his turn by a person who puts his mouth to a better employment, and stops it with good beef and mutton. In this case the guest is very agreeably silenced, and seems to hold his tongue under that kind of bribery which the ancients called bos in lingua.*
If I can once extirpate the race of solid and substantial humdrums, I hope, by my wholesome and repeated advices, quickly to reduce the insignificant tittle-tattles, and matter-offact-men, that abound in every quarter of this great city.
Epictetus, in his little system of morality,
-Hæ nugæ seria ducunt
cepts: Beware that thou never tell thy dreams
This rule is conformable to a maxim which I have laid down in a late paper, and must always inculcate into those of my readers who find in themselves an inclination to be very talkative and impertinent, that they should not speak to please themselves, but those that hear them.'
Have you no mother, sister, friends,
Hor. Ars Poct. 451.
From my own Apartment, December 27. I FIND my correspondents are universally offended at me for taking notice so seldom of their letters, and I fear people have taken the advantage of my silence to go on in their errors; for which reason I shall hereafter be more careful to answer all lawful questions and just complaints, as soon as they come to my hands. The two following epistles relate to very great mis
• An allusion to the image of a bull, or, or cow, stampt chiefs in the most important articles of life,
upon the money then, and there in current use, whence the
love and friendship:
Dorsetshire, Dec. 20.
" It is my misfortune to be enamoured of a lady, that is neither very beautiful, very witty, nor at all well-natured; but has the vanity to think she excels in all these qualifications, and therefore is cruel, insolent, and scornful. When I study to please her, she treats me with the utmost rudeness and ill-manners: if I approach her person, she fights, she scratches me: if I offer a civil salute, she bites me; insomuch, that very lately, before a whole assembly of ladies and gentlemen, she ripped out a considerable part of my left cheek. This is no sooner done, but she begs my pardon in the most handsome and becoming terms imaginable, gives herself worse language than I could find in my heart to do, lets me embrace her to pacify her while she is railing at herself, protests she deserves the esteem of no one living, says I am too good to contradict her when she thus accuses herself. This atones for all; tempts me to renew my addresses, which are ever returned in the same obliging manner. Thus, without some speedy relief, I am in danger of losing my whole face. Notwithstanding all this, I doat upon her, and am satisfied she loves me, because she takes me for a man of sense, which I have been generally thought, except in this one instance. Your reflections upon this strange amour would be very useful in these parts, where we are overrun with wild beauties and romps. I earnestly beg your assistance, either to deliver me from the power of this unaccountable erchantment, or, by some proper animadversions, to civilize the behaviour of this agreeable rustic. I am, Sir, your most humble servant,
perpetual teazing, to treat those who do it as his enemies. In a word, whereas, it is a common practice to let a story die, merely because it does not touch, I think such as mention one they find does, are as troublesome to society, and as unfit for it, as wags, men of figure, good talkers, or any other apes in conversation; and therefore, for the public benefit, I hope you will cause them to be branded with such a name as they deserve. I am, Sir, your's, 'PATIENT FRIENDLY.
'I now take leave to address you in your eharacter of Censor, and complain to you that among the various errors in conversation which you have corrected, there is one which, though it bas not escaped a general reproof, yet seems to deserve a more particular severity. It is a humour of jesting on disagreeable subjects, and insisting on the jest, the more it creates uneasiness; and this some men think they have a title to do as friends. Is the design of jesting, to provoke? or does friendship give a privilege to say things with a design to shock? How can that be called a jest which has nothing in it but bitterness? It is generally allowed necessary, for the peace of company, that men should a little study the tempers of each other; but certainly that must be in order to shun what is offensive, not to make it a constant entertainment. The frequent repetition of what appears harsh, will unavoidably leave a rancour that is fatal to friendship; and I doubt much whether it would be an argument of a man's good-humour, if he should be roused by
The case of Ebenezer is a very common one, and is always cured by neglect. These fantas tical returns of affection proceed from a certain vanity in the other sex, supported by a perverted taste in ours. I must publish it as a rule, that no faults which proceed from the will, either in a mistress or a friend, are to be tolerated: but we should be so complaisant to ladies as to let them displease when they aim at doing it. Pluck up a spirit, Ebenezer; recover the use of your judgment, and her faults will appear, or her beauties vanish. 'Her faults begin to please me as well as my own,' is a sentence very prettily put into the mouth of a lover by the comic poet; but he never designed it for a maxim of life, but the picture of an imperfection. If Ebenezer takes my advice, the same temper which made her insolent to his love will make her submissive to his indifference.
I cannot wholly ascribe the faults, mentioned in the second letter, to the same vanity or pride in companions who secretly triumph over their friends, in being sharp upon them in things where they are most tender. But when this sort of behaviour does not proceed from that source, it does from barrenness of invention, and an inability to support a conversation in a way less offensive. It is the same poverty which makes men speak or write smuttily, that forces them to talk vexingly. As obscene language is an address to the lewd for applause, so are sharp allusions an appeal to the illnatured. But mean and illiterate is that con
versation, where one man exercises his wit to make another exercise his patience.
Whereas Plagius has been told again and again, both in public and private, that he preaches excellently well, and still goes on to preach as well as ever, and all this to a polite and learned audience: this is to desire, that he would not hereafter be so eloquent, except to a country congregation; the proprietors of Tillotson's works having consulted the learned in the law, whether preaching a sermon they have published, is not to be construed publishing their copy?
* Congreve, see The Way of the World,' act i, sc, a
Mr. Dogood is uesired to consider, that his | the brain, which makes it break out first about. story is severe upon a weakness, and not a folly.
the head, and, for want of timely remedies, fall upon the left thigh, and from thence, in little mazes and windings, run over the whole body, as appears by pretty ornaments on the buttons, button-holes, garterings, sides of the breeches, and the like. I beg the favour of you to give us a discourse wholly upon the subject of habits, which will contribute to the better government of conversation among us, and in particular oblige, Sir,
your affectionate cousin,
No. 270.] Saturday, December 30, 1710.
Cum pulchris tunicis sumet nova consilia et spes.
In gay attire when the vain coxcomb's drest,
From my own Apartment, December 29. ACCORDING to my late resolution, I take the holidays to be no improper season to entertain the town with the addresses of my correspondents. In my walks every day, there appear all round me very great offenders in the point of dress. An armed taylor had the impudence yesterday in the Park to smile in my face, and pull of a laced hat to me, as it were in contempt of my authority and censure. However, it is a very great satisfaction that other people, as well as myself, are offended with these improprieties. The following notices, from persons of different sexes and qualities, are a sufficient instance how useful my lucubrations are to the public.
'You have up and down in your writings very justly remarked, that it is not this or the other profession or quality among men that gives us honour or esteem, but the well or ill behaving ourselves in those characters. It is, therefore, with no small concern, that I behold in coffee-houses and public places my brethren, the tradesmen of this city, put off the smooth, even, and ancient decorum of thriving citizens, for a fantastical dress and figure, improper for their persons and characters, to the utter destruction of that order and distinction, which of right ought to be between St. James's and Milk-street, the Camp and Cheapside.'
'I have given myself some time to find out how distinguishing the frays in a lot of muslins, or drawing up a regiment of thread laces, or making a panegyric on pieces of sagathy or Scotch plad, should entitle a man to a laced hat or sword, a wig tied up with ribbands, or an embroidered coat. The college say, this enormity proceeds from a sort of delirium in
To Isaac Bickerstaff, Esquire, Censor of
That for some years last past the use of gold and silver galloon upon hats has been almost universal; being undistinguishably worn by soldiers, esquires, lords, footmen, beaux, sportsmen, traders, clerks, prigs, smarts, cullies, pretty fellows, and sharpers.
That the said use and custom has been two ways very prejudicial to your petitioners. Jack's Coffee-house, near Guildhall, First, in that it has induced men, to the great 'COUSIN BICKERSTAFF, Dec. 27. damage of your petitioners, to wear their hats 'It has been the peculiar blessing of our upon their heads; by which means the said family to be always above the smiles or frowns hats last much longer whole, than they would of fortune, and, by a certain greatness of mind, do if worn under their arms. Secondly, in to restrain all irregular fondnesses or passions. that very often a new dressing and a new lace From hence it is, that though a long decay, supply the place of a new hat, which grievance and a numerous descent, have obliged many we are chiefly sensible of in the spring-time, of our house to fall into the arts of trade and when the company is leaving the town; it so business, no one person of us has ever made happening commonly, that a hat shall frean appearance that betrayed our being unsatis- quent, all winter, the finest and best assemblies fied with our own station of life, or has ever without any ornament at all, and in May shall affected a mien or gesture unsuitable to it. be tricked up with gold or silver, to keep com pany with rustics, and ride in the rain. All which premises your petitioners humbly pray you to take into your consideration, and either to appoint a day in your Court of Honour, when all pretenders to the galloon may enter their claims, and have them approved or re jected, or to give us such other relief as to your great wisdom shall seem meet.
'And your petitioners, &c.'
'The humble Petition of Ralph Nab, Haberdasher of Hats, and many other poor Sufferers of the same Trade;
petitioner, walking in the Strand, saw a gentleman before us in a gown, whose periwig was so long, and so much powdered, that your petitioner took notice of it, and said, she wondered that lawyer would so spoil a new gown with powder." To which it was answered, "that he was no lawyer, but a clergyman." Upon a wager of a pot of coffee we overtook him, and your petitioner was soon convinced she had lost.
"Your petitioner, therefore desires your worship to cite the clergymen before you, and to settle and adjust the length of canonical periwigs, and the quantity of powder to be made use of in them, and to give such other directions as you shall think fit.
And your petitioner, &c.'
To the Rev. Mr. Ralph Incense, Chaplain to the countess dowager of Brumpton.
Query, whether this gentleman be not chap lain to a regiment, and, in such case, allow powder accordingly
No. 271.] Tuesday, January 2, 1710.*
THE printer having informed me, that there are as many of these papers printed as will make four volumes, I am now come to the end thing further to say to the world under the of my ambition in this matter, and have no
character of Isaac Bickerstaff. This work has indeed for some time been disagreeable to me,
After all that can be thought on these sub
jects, I must confess, that the men who dress
with a certain ambition to appear more than they are, are much more excusable than those who betray, in the adorning their persons, a secret vanity and inclination to shine in things, wherein, if they did succeed, it would rather lessen than advance their character. For this
and the purpose of it wholly lost by my being so long understood as the author. I never designed in it to give any man any secret wound by my concealment, but spoke in the character of an old man, a philosopher, a humorist, an with the variety of my subjects, and insinastrologer, and a censor, to allure my reader uate, if I could, the weight of reason with the reason I am more provoked at the allegations of the whole has been to recommend truth, agreeableness of wit. The general purpose — relating to the clergyman, than any other hinted at in these complaints. I have indeed innocence, honour, and virtue, as the chief ora long time, with much concern, observed of manners was absolutely necessary to him naments of life; but I considered, that severity abundance of pretty fellows in sacred orders, who would censure others, and for that reason, and shall in due time let them know, that I and that only, chose to talk in a mask. I shall pretend to give ecclesiastical as well as civil not carry my humility so far as to call myself censures. A man well-bred and well-dressed a vicious man, but at the same time must conin that habit, adds to the sacredness of his function an agreeableness not to be met with fess, my life is at best but pardonable. And, with no greater character than this, a man among the laity. I own I have spent some would make but an indifferent progress in atevenings among the men of wit of that pro-tacking prevailing and fashionable vices, which fession with an inexpressible delight. Their Mr. Bickerstaff has done with a freedom of habitual care of their character gives such a chastisement to their fancy, that all which and efficacy, had it been pretended to by Mr. spirit, that would have lost both its beauty they utter in company is as much above what you meet with in other conversation, as the charms of a modest, are superior to those of a light, woman. I therefore earnestly desire our young missionaries from the universities to consider where they are, and not dress, and look, and move like young officers. It is no disadvantage to have a very handsome white hand; but, were I to preach repentance to a gallery of ladies, I would, methinks, keep my gloves on. I have an unfeigned affection to the class of mankind appointed to serve at the altar, therefore am in danger of running out of my way, and growing too serious on this occasion; for which reason I shall end with the following epistle, which, by my interest in Tom Trot, the penny-post, I procured a copy of:
As to the work itself, the acceptance it has met with is the best proof of its value; but I should err against that candour, which an hodid not own, that the most approved pieces in nest man should always carry about him, if I have been most excepted against, by myself. it were written by others, and those which
The band that has assisted me in those noble
discourses upon the immortality of the soul,
*Steele's last Tatler came out to-day. You will see it before this comes to you, and how he takes leave of the world. He never told so much as Addison of it, who was surprised as much as 1; but, to say the truth, it was time. for he grew cruel dull and dry. To my knowledge, he had several good hints to go upon; but he was so lazy, and weary of the work, that he would not improve them. Swift's Works, vol. xxii.
the glorious prospects of another life, and the most sublime ideas of religion and virtue, is a person who is too fondly my friend ever to own them; but I should little deserve to be his, if I usurped the glory of them. I must acknowledge at the same time, that I think the finest strokes of wit and humour in all Mr. Bickerstaff's lucubrations, are those for which he also is beholden to him.
I must confess it has been a most exquisite pleasure to me to frame characters of domestic life, and put those parts of it which are least observed into an agreeable view; fto enquire into the seeds of vanity and affectation, to lay before the readers the emptiness of ambition: in a word, to trace human life through all its mazes and recesses, and shew much shorter methods than men ordinarily practise, to be happy, agreeable, and great.
As for the satirical part of these writings, those against the gentlemen who profess gaming are the most licentious; but the main of them I take to come from losing gamesters, as invectives against the fortunate; for in very many of them I was very little else but the transcriber. If any have been more particularly marked at, such persons may impute it to their own behaviour, before they were touchederstaff any longer; and I believe it does not
But to enquire into men's faults and weaknesses has something in it so unwelcome, that I have often seen people in pain to act before me, whose modesty only makes them think themselves liable to censure. This, and a thousand other nameless things, have made it an irksome task to me to personate Mr. Bick
often happen, that the reader is delighted where the author is displeased.
All I can do now for the further gratification of the town, is to give them a faithful explication of passages and allusions, and sometimes of persons intended in the several scattered parts of the work. At the same time, I shall discover which of the whole have been written by me, and which by others, and by whom, as far as I am able, or permitted.*
Thus I have voluntarily done what I think all authors should do when called upon. I have published my name to my writings and given myself up to the mercy of the town, as Shakspeare expresses it, with all my imperfections on my head.' The indulgent reader's most obliged most obedient, humble servant,
upon in publicly speaking their resentment against the author, and professing they would support any man who should insult him. When I mention this subject, I hope major-general Davenport, brigadier Bisset, and my lord Forbes, will accept of my thanks for their frequent good offices, in professing their readiness to partake any danger that should befall me in so just an undertaking, as the endeavour to banish fraud and cozenage from the presence and conversation of gentlemen.
But what I find is the least excusable part of all this work is, that I have, in some places in it, touched upon matters which concern both church and state. All I shall say for this is, that the points I alluded to, are such as concerned every Christian and freeholder in England; and I could not be cold enough to conceal my opinion on subjects which related to either of those characters. But politics apart.
Addison was the assistant here alluded to.
This is done in the original preface to the fourth volume of the Tatler; printed at the beginning of the present edition.