Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

The Works of Samuel Johnson

Part 3 out of 7

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

over us in a very shameful manner, and fill our
imaginations with tales of terrour, only to make us
live in quiet subjection, and fancy that we can never
be safe but by their protection.

I have a mamma and two aunts, who have all been
formerly celebrated for wit and beauty, and are still
generally admired by those that value themselves
upon their understanding, and love to talk of vice
and virtue, nature and simplicity, and beauty and
propriety; but if there was not some hope of meeting
me, scarcely a creature would come near them
that wears a fashionable coat. These ladies, Mr.
Rambler, have had me under their government fifteen
years and a half, and have all that time been
endeavouring to deceive me by such representations
of life as I now find not to be true; but I know not
whether I ought to impute them to ignorance or
malice, as it is possible the world may be much
changed since they mingled in general conversation.

Being desirous that I should love books, they told
me, that nothing but knowledge could make me an
agreeable companion to men of sense, or qualify me
to distinguish the superficial glitter of vanity from
the solid merit of understanding; and that a habit
of reading would enable me to fill up the vacuities
of life without the help of silly or dangerous
amusements, and preserve me from the snares of idleness
and the inroads of temptation.

But their principal intention was to make me
afraid of men; in which they succeeded so well for
a time, that I durst not look in their faces, or be
left alone with them in a parlour; for they made me
fancy, that no man ever spoke but to deceive, or
looked but to allure; that the girl who suffered him
that had once squeezed her hand, to approach her a
second time, was on the brink of ruin; and that she
who answered a billet, without consulting her relations,
gave love such power over her, that she would
certainly become either poor or infamous.

From the time that my leading-strings were
taken off, I scarce heard any mention of my beauty
but from the milliner, the mantua-maker, and my
own maid; for my mamma never said more, when
she heard me commended, but "the girl is very
well," and then endeavoured to divert my attention
by some inquiry after my needle, or my book.

It is now three months since I have been suffered
to pay and receive visits, to dance at publick
assemblies, to have a place kept for me in the boxes,
and to play at lady Racker's rout; and you may
easily imagine what I think of those who have so
long cheated me with false expectations, disturbed
me with fictitious terrours, and concealed from me
all that I have found to make the happiness of

I am so far from perceiving the usefulness or
necessity of books, that if I had not dropped all
pretensions to learning, I should have lost Mr.
Trip, whom I once frighted into another box, by
retailing some of Dryden's remarks upon a tragedy;
for Mr. Trip declares, that he hates nothing like hard
words, and I am sure, there is not a better partner
to be found; his very walk is a dance. I have talked
once or twice among ladies about principles and
ideas, but they put their fans before their faces, and
told me I was too wise for them, who for their part
never pretended to read any thing but the play-bill,
and then asked me the price of my best head.

Those vacancies of time which are to be filled up
with books I have never yet obtained; for, consider,
Mr. Rambler, I go to bed late, and therefore cannot
rise early; as soon as I am up, I dress for the gardens;
then walk in the park; then always go to some sale
or show, or entertainment at the little theatre; then
must be dressed for dinner; then must pay my
visits; then walk in the park; then hurry to the
play; and from thence to the card-table. This is the
general course of the day, when there happens nothing
extraordinary; but sometimes I ramble into the
country, and come back again to a ball; sometimes
I am engaged for a whole day and part of the night.
If, at any time, I can gain an hour by not being at
home, I have so many things to do, so many orders
to give to the milliner, so many alterations to make
in my clothes, so many visitants' names to read over,
so many invitations to accept or refuse, so many
cards to write, and so many fashions to consider,
that I am lost in confusion, forced at last to let in
company or step into my chair, and leave half my
affairs to the direction of my maid.

This is the round of my day; and when shall I
either stop my course, or so change it as to want a
book? I suppose it cannot be imagined, that any
of these diversions will soon be at an end. There
will always be gardens, and a park, and auctions,
and shows, and playhouses, and cards; visits will
always be paid, and clothes always be worn; and how
can I have time unemployed upon my hands?

But I am most at a loss to guess for what
purpose they related such tragick stories of the cruelty,
perfidy, and artifices of men, who, if they ever were
so malicious and destructive, have certainly now
reformed their manners. I have not, since my entrance
into the world, found one who does not profess
himself devoted to my service, and ready to
live or die as I shall command him. They are so far
from intending to hurt me, that their only contention
is, who shall be allowed most closely to attend,
and most frequently to treat me; when different
places of entertainment, or schemes of pleasure are
mentioned, I can see the eye sparkle and the cheeks
glow of him whose proposals obtain my approbation;
he then leads me of in triumph, adores my
condescension, and congratulates himself that he
has lived to the hour of felicity. Are these, Mr.
Rambler, creatures to be feared? Is it likely that
an injury will be done me by those who can enjoy
life only while I favour them with my presence?

As little reason can I yet find to suspect them
of stratagems and fraud. When I play at cards, they
never take advantage of my mistakes, nor exact
from me a rigorous observation of the game. Even
Mr. Shuffle, a grave gentleman, who has daughters
older than myself, plays with me so negligently,
that I am sometimes inclined to believe he loses his
money by design, and yet he is so fond of play, that
he says, he will one day take me to his house in the
country, that we may try by ourselves who can conquer.
I have not yet promised him; but when the
town grows a little empty, I shall think upon it,
for I want some trinkets, like Letitia's, to my watch.
I do not doubt my luck, but must study some means
of amusing my relations.

For all these distinctions I find myself indebted
to that beauty which I was never suffered to hear
praised, and of which, therefore, I did not before
know the full value. The concealment was certainly
an intentional fraud, for my aunts have eyes like
other people, and I am every day told, that nothing
but blindness can escape the influence of my charms.
Their whole account of that world which they
pretend to know so well, has been only one fiction
entangled with another; and though the modes of life
oblige me to continue some appearances of respect,
I cannot think that they, who have been so clearly
detected in ignorance or imposture, have any right
to the esteem, veneration, or obedience of,

Sir, Yours,


No. 192. SATURDAY, JANUARY 18, 1752

Genos ouoedeoen eioes Erwta<.S>>
Sofih, tropos patetai<.S>>
Monon arguron Blepousin>.
'Apoloito prtos a "O tooen arguron filhsas.
Dtaoe toton ouoec aoedelfooes,
Dtaoe toton ouoe toces><.S>
Polemoi, fonoi dioe auoeton.
Tooe deoe Ceton, ooellumesqa>
Dtaoe touoeton oi filontes>. ANACREON. ODAI,
M. 5.

Vain the noblest birth would prove,
Nor worth or wit avail in love;
'Tis gold alone succeeds--by gold
The venal sex is bought and sold.
Accurs'd be he who first of yore
Discover'd the pernicious ore!
This sets a brother's heart on fire,
And arms the son against the sire;
And what, alas! is worse than all,
To this the lover owes his fall. F. LEWIS.



I AM the son of a gentleman, whose ancestors, for
many ages, held the first rank in the country;
till at last one of them, too desirous of popularity,
set his house open, kept a table covered with continual
profusion, and distributed his beef and ale to
such as chose rather to live upon the folly of others,
than their own labour, with such thoughtless liberality,
that he left a third part of his estate mortgaged.
His successor, a man of spirit, scorned to impair his
dignity by parsimonious retrenchments, or to admit,
by a sale of his lands, any participation of the rights
of his manour; he therefore made another mortgage
to pay the interest of the former, and pleased himself
with the reflection, that his son would have the
hereditary estate without the diminution of an acre.

Nearly resembling this was the practice of my
wise progenitors for many ages. Every man boasted
the antiquity of his family, resolved to support the
dignity of his birth, and lived in splendour and
plenty at the expense of his heir, who, sometimes
by a wealthy marriage, and sometimes by lucky
legacies, discharged part of the incumbrances, and
thought himself entitled to contract new debts,
and to leave to his children the same inheritance of
embarrassment and distress.

Thus the estate perpetually decayed; the woods
were felled by one, the park ploughed by another,
the fishery let to farmers by a third; at last the old
hall was pulled down to spare the cost of reparation,
and part of the materials sold to build a small
house with the rest. We were now openly degraded
from our original rank, and my father's brother was
allowed with less reluctance to serve an apprenticeship,
though we never reconciled ourselves heartily
to the sound of haberdasher, but always talked of
warehouses and a merchant, and when the wind
happened to blow loud, affected to pity the hazards
of commerce, and to sympathize with the solicitude
of my poor uncle, who had the true retailer's terrour
of adventure, and never exposed himself or his
property to any wider water than the Thames.

In time, however, by continual profit and small
expenses, he grew rich, and began to turn his thoughts
towards rank. He hung the arms of the family over
his parlour-chimney; pointed at a chariot decorated
only with a cypher; became of opinion that money
could not make a gentleman; resented the petulance
of upstarts; told stories of alderman Puff's
grandfather the porter; wondered that there was
no better method for regulating precedence; wished
for some dress peculiar to men of fashion; and
when his servant presented a letter, always inquired
whether it came from his brother the esquire.

My father was careful to send him game by every
carrier, which, though the conveyance often cost
more than the value, was well received, because it
gave him an opportunity of calling his friends
together, describing the beauty of his brother's seat,
and lamenting his own folly, whom no remonstrances
could withhold from polluting his fingers
with a shop-book.

The little presents which we sent were always
returned with great munificence. He was desirous
of being the second founder of his family, and
could not bear that we should be any longer
outshone by those whom we considered as climbers
upon our ruins, and usurpers of our fortune. He
furnished our house with all the elegance of
fashionable expense, and was careful to conceal his
bounties, lest the poverty of his family should be

At length it happened that, by misconduct like
our own, a large estate, which had been purchased
from us, was again exposed to the best bidder. My
uncle, delighted with an opportunity of reinstating
the family in their possessions, came down with
treasures scarcely to be imagined in a place where
commerce has not made large sums familiar, and at
once drove all the competitors away, expedited the
writings, and took possession. He now considered
himself as superior to trade, disposed of his stock,
and as soon as he had settled his economy, began
to shew his rural sovereignty, by breaking the
hedges of his tenants in hunting, and seizing the
guns or nets of those whose fortunes did not qualify
them for sportsmen. He soon afterwards solicited
the office of sheriff, from which all his neighbours
were glad to be reprieved, but which he regarded
as a resumption of ancestral claims, and a kind of
restoration to blood after the attainder of a trade.

My uncle, whose mind was so filled with this
change of his condition, that he found no want of
domestick entertainment, declared himself too old
to marry, and resolved to let the newly-purchased
estate fall into the regular channel of inheritance.
I was therefore considered as heir apparent, and
courted with officiousness and caresses, by the
gentlemen who had hitherto coldly allowed me that
rank which they could not refuse, depressed me with
studied neglect, and irritated me with ambiguous

I felt not much pleasure from the civilities for
which I knew myself indebted to my uncle's industry,
till, by one of the invitations which every
day now brought me, I was induced to spend a week
with Lucius, whose daughter Flavilla I had often
seen and admired like others, without any thought
of nearer approaches. The inequality which had
hitherto kept me at a distance being now levelled,
I was received with every evidence of respect: Lucius
told me the fortune which he intended for his favourite
daughter; many odd accidents obliged us to be
often together without company, and I soon began
to find that they were spreading for me the nets of

Flavilla was all softness and complaisance. I, who
had been excluded by a narrow fortune from much
acquaintance with the world, and never been honoured
before with the notice of so fine a lady, was
easily enamoured. Lucius either perceived my
passion, or Flavilla betrayed it; care was taken, that
our private meetings should be less frequent, and
my charmer confessed by her eyes how much pain
she suffered from our restraint. I renewed my visit
upon every pretence, but was not allowed one interview
without witness; at last I declared my passion
to Lucius, who received me as a lover worthy of his
daughter, and told me that nothing was wanting to
his consent, but that my uncle should settle his estate
upon me. I objected the indecency of encroaching
on his life, and the danger of provoking him by such
an unseasonable demand. Lucius seemed not to
think decency of much importance, but admitted
the danger of displeasing, and concluded that as he
was now old and sickly, we might without any in
convenience, wait for his death.

With this resolution I was better contented, as
it procured me the company of Flavilla, in which
the days passed away amidst continual rapture; but
in time I began to be ashamed of sitting idle, in
expectation of growing rich by the death of my
benefactor, and proposed to Lucius many schemes of
raising my own fortune by such assistance as I knew
my uncle willing to give me. Lucius, afraid lest I
should change my affection in absence, diverted me
from my design by dissuasives to which my passions
easily listened. At last my uncle died, and considering
himself as neglected by me, from the time that
Flavilla took possession of my heart, left his estate
to my younger brother, who was always hovering
about his bed, and relating stories of my pranks
and extravagance, my contempt of the commercial
dialect, and my impatience to be selling stock.

My condition was soon known, and I was no longer
admitted by the father of Flavilla. I repeated the
protestations of regard, which had been formerly
returned with so much ardour, in a letter which she
received privately, but returned by her father's
footman. Contempt has driven out my love, and I am
content to have purchased, by the loss of fortune,
an escape from a harpy, who has joined the artifices
of age to the allurements of youth. I am now going
to pursue my former projects with a legacy which
my uncle bequeathed me, and if I succeed, shall expect
to hear of the repentance of Flavilla.

I am, Sir, Yours, &c.


No. 193. TUESDAY, JANUARY 21, 1752

Laudis amore tumes? sunt certa piacula, quoe te
Ter pure lecto poterunt recreare libella.

HON. Lib. i. Ep. i. 36.

Or art thou vain? books yield a certain spell
To stop thy tumour; you shall cease to swell
When you have read them thrice, and studied well.


WHATEVER is universally desired, will be
sought by industry and artifice, by merit and
crimes, by means good and bad, rational and absurd,
according to the prevalence of virtue or vice, of
wisdom or folly. Some will always mistake the
degree of their own desert, and some will desire that
others may mistake it. The cunning will have
recourse to stratagem, and the powerful to violence,
for the attainment of their wishes; some will stoop
to theft, and others venture upon plunder.

Praise is so pleasing to the mind of man, that it
is the original motive of almost all our actions. The
desire of commendation, as of every thing else, is
varied indeed by innumerable differences of temper,
capacity, and knowledge; some have no higher wish
than for the applause of a club; some expect the
acclamations of a county; and some have hoped to fill
the mouths of all ages and nations with their names.
Every man pants for the highest eminence within
his view; none, however mean, ever sinks below the
hope of being distinguished by his fellow-beings,
and very few have by magnanimity or piety been so
raised above it, as to act wholly without regard to
censure or opinion.

To be praised, therefore, every man resolves;
but resolutions will not execute themselves. That
which all think too parsimoniously distributed to
their own claims, they will not gratuitously squander
upon others, and some expedient must be tried,
by which praise may be gained before it can be

Among the innumerable bidders for praise, some
are willing to purchase at the highest rate, and offer
ease and health, fortune and life. Yet even of these
only a small part have gained what they so earnestly
desired; the student wastes away in meditation, and
the soldier perishes on the ramparts, but unless some
accidental advantage co-operates with merit, neither
perseverance nor adventure attracts attention, and
learning and bravery sink into the grave, without
honour or remembrance.

But ambition and vanity generally expect to be
gratified on easier terms. It has been long observed,
that what is procured by skill or labour to the first
possessor, may be afterwards transferred for money;
and that the man of wealth may partake all the
acquisitions of courage without hazard, and all the
products of industry without fatigue. It was easily
discovered, that riches would obtain praise among
other conveniences, and that he whose pride was
unluckily associated with laziness, ignorance, or
cowardice, needed only to pay the hire of a panegyrist,
and he might be regaled with periodical eulogies;
might determine, at leisure, what virtue or science
he would be pleased to appropriate, and be lulled in
the evening with soothing serenades, or waked in the
morning by sprightly gratulations.

The happiness which mortals receive from the
celebration of beneficence which never relieved,
eloquence which never persuaded, or elegance which
never pleased, ought not to be envied or disturbed,
when they are known honestly to pay for their
entertainment. But there are unmerciful exactors of
adulation, who withhold the wages of venality; retain
their encomiast from year to year by general
promises and ambiguous blandishments; and when
he has run through the whole compass of flattery,
dismiss him with contempt, because his vein of fiction
is exhausted.

A continual feast of commendation is only to be
obtained by merit or by wealth; many are therefore
obliged to content themselves with single morsels,
and recompense the infrequency of their enjoyment
by excess and riot, whenever fortune sets the banquet
before them. Hunger is never delicate; they
who are seldom gorged to the full with praise, may
be safely fed with gross compliments; for the appetite
must be satisfied before it is disgusted.

It is easy to find the moment at which vanity is
eager for sustenance, and all that impudence or servility
can offer will be well received. When any one
complains of the want of what he is known to possess
in an uncommon degree, he certainly waits with
impatience to be contradicted. When the trader
pretends anxiety about the payment of his bills, or the
beauty remarks how frightfully she looks, then is
the lucky moment to talk of riches or of charms, of
the death of lovers, or the honour of a merchant.

Others there are yet more open and artless, who,
instead of suborning a flatterer, are content to supply
his place, and as some animals impregnate themselves,
swell with the praises which they hear from
their own tongues. Recte is dicitur laudare sese, cui
nemo alius contigit laudator. "It is right," says
Erasmus, "that he, whom no one else will commend,
should bestow commendations on himself." Of all
the sons of vanity, these are surely the happiest
and greatest; for what is greatness or happiness but
independence on external influences, exemption
from hope or fear, and the power of supplying every
want from the common stores of nature, which can
neither be exhausted nor prohibited? Such is the
wise man of the stoicks; such is the divinity of the
epicureans; and such is the flatterer of himself.
Every other enjoyment malice may destroy; every
other panegyrick envy may withhold; but no human
power can deprive the boaster of his own encomiums.
Infamy may hiss, or contempt may growl,
the hirelings of the great may follow fortune, and
the votaries of truth may attend on virtue; but
his pleasures still remain the same; he can always
listen with rapture to himself, and leave those who
dare not repose upon their own attestation, to
be elated or depressed by chance, and toil on in
the hopeless task of fixing caprice, and propitiating

This art of happiness has been long practised by
periodical writers, with little apparent violation of
decency. When we think our excellencies overlooked
by the world, or desire to recall the attention
of the publick to some particular performance,
we sit down with great composure and write a letter
to ourselves. The correspondent, whose character
we assume, always addresses us with the deference
due to a superior intelligence; proposes his doubts
with a proper sense of his own inability; offers an
objection with trembling diffidence; and at last has
no other pretensions to our notice than his profundity
of respect, and sincerity of admiration, his
submission to our dictates, and zeal for our success.
To such a reader, it is impossible to refuse regard,
nor can it easily be imagined with how much alacrity
we snatch up the pen which indignation or despair
had condemned to inactivity, when we find such candour
and judgment yet remaining in the world.

A letter of this kind I had lately the honour of
perusing, in which, though some of the periods were
negligently closed, and some expressions of familiarity
were used, which I thought might teach others
to address me with too little reverence, I was so
much delighted with the passages in which mention
was made of universal learning--unbounded genius--
soul of Homer, Pythagoras, and Plato--solidity
of thought--accuracy of distinction--elegance
of combination--vigour of fancy--strength of
reason--and regularity of composition--that I
had once determined to lay it before the publick.
Three times I sent it to the printer, and three times
I fetched it back. My modesty was on the point of
yielding, when reflecting that I was about to waste
panegyricks on myself, which might be more profitably
reserved for my patron, I locked it up for a
better hour, in compliance with the farmer's principle,
who never eats at home what he can carry to
the market.

No. 194. SATURDAY, JANUARY 25, 1752

Si damnosa senem juvat alea, ludit et heres
Bullatus, parvoque eadem movet arma fritillo.

JUV. Sat. xiv. 4.

If gaming does an aged sire entice,
Then my young master swiftly learns the vice,
And shakes in hanging sleeves the little box and dice.

J. DRYDEN, jun.



THAT vanity which keeps every man important
in his own eyes, inclines me to believe that
neither you nor your readers have yet forgotten the
name of Eumathes, who sent you a few months ago
an account of his arrival at London, with a young
nobleman his pupil. I shall therefore continue my
narrative without preface or recapitulation.

My pupil, in a very short time, by his mother's
countenance and direction, accomplished himself
with all those qualifications which constitute puerile
politeness. He became in a few days a perfect master
of his hat, which with a careless nicety he could put
off or on, without any need to adjust it by a second
motion. This was not attained but by frequent
consultations with his dancing-master, and constant
practice before the glass, for he had some rustick
habits to overcome; but, what will not time and
industry perform? A fortnight more furnished him
with all the airs and forms of familiar and respectful
salutation, from the clap on the shoulder to the
humble bow; he practises the stare of strangeness,
and the smile of condescension, the solemnity of
promise, and the graciousness of encouragement, as
if he had been nursed at a levee; and pronounces,
with no less propriety than his father, the
monosyllables of coldness, and sonorous periods of
respectful profession.

He immediately lost the reserve and timidity
which solitude and study are apt to impress upon
the most courtly genius; was able to enter a crowded
room with airy civility; to meet the glances of a
hundred eyes without perturbation; and address those
whom he never saw before with ease and confidence.
In less than a month his mother declared her satisfaction
at his proficiency by a triumphant observation,

The silence with which I was contented to hear
my pupil's praises, gave the lady reason to suspect
me not much delighted with his acquisitions; but
she attributed my discontent to the diminution of
my influence, and my fears of losing the patronage
of the family; and though she thinks favourably of
my learning and morals, she considers me as wholly
unacquainted with the customs of the polite part
of mankind; and therefore not qualified to form
the manners of a young nobleman, or communicate
the knowledge of the world. This knowledge she
comprises in the rules of visiting, the history of the
present hour, an early intelligence of the change of
fashions, an extensive acquaintance with the names
and faces of persons of rank, and a frequent appearance
in places of resort.

All this my pupil pursues with great application.
He is twice a day in the Mall, where he studies the
dress of every man splendid enough to attract his
notice, and never comes home without some observation
upon sleeves, button-holes, and embroidery.
At his return from the theatre, he can give an
account of the gallantries, glances, whispers, smiles,
sighs, flirts, and blushes of every box, so much to
his mother's satisfaction, that when I attempted to
resume my character, by inquiring his opinion of the
sentiments and diction of the tragedy, she at once
repressed my criticism, by telling me, "that she
hoped he did not go to lose his time in attending
to the creatures on the stage."

But his acuteness was most eminently signalized
at the masquerade, where he discovered his acquaintance
through their disguises, with such wonderful
facility, as has afforded the family an inexhaustible
topick of conversation. Every new visitor is
informed how one was detected by his gait, and
another by the swinging of his arms, a third by the
toss of his head, and another by his favourite phrase;
nor can you doubt but these performances receive
their just applause, and a genius thus hastening to
maturity is promoted by every art of cultivation.

Such have been his endeavours, and such his
assistances, that every trace of literature was soon
obliterated. He has changed his language with his dress,
and instead of endeavouring at purity or propriety,
has no other care than to catch the reigning phrase
and current exclamation, till, by copying whatever
is peculiar in the talk of all those whose birth or
fortune entitles them to imitation, he has collected every
fashionable barbarism of the present winter, and
speaks a dialect not to be understood among those
who form their style by poring upon authors.

To this copiousness of ideas, and felicity of
language, he has joined such eagerness to lead the
conversation, that he is celebrated among the ladies as
the prettiest gentleman that the age can boast of,
except that some who love to talk themselves, think
him too forward, and others lament that, with so
much wit and knowledge, he is not taller.

His mother listens to his observations with her
eyes sparkling and her heart beating, and can
scarcely contain, in the most numerous assemblies,
the expectations which she has formed for his future
eminence. Women, by whatever fate, always
judge absurdly of the intellects of boys. The vivacity
and confidence which attract female admiration,
are seldom produced in the early part of life,
but by ignorance at least, if not by stupidity; for
they proceed not from confidence of right, but
fearlessness of wrong. Whoever has a clear apprehension,
must have quick sensibility, and where he has
no sufficient reason to trust his own judgment, will
proceed with doubt and caution, because he perpetually
dreads the disgrace of errour. The pain of
miscarriage is naturally proportionate to the desire
of excellence; and, therefore, till men are hardened
by long familiarity with reproach, or have attained,
by frequent struggles, the art of suppressing their
emotions, diffidence is found the inseparable associate
of understanding.

But so little distrust has my pupil of his own
abilities, that he has for some time professed himself
a wit, and tortures his imagination on all occasions
for burlesque and jocularity. How he supports
a character which, perhaps, no man ever assumed
without repentance, may be easily conjectured.
Wit, you know, is the unexpected copulation of
ideas, the discovery of some occult relation between
images in appearance remote from each other; an
effusion of wit, therefore, presupposes an accumulation
of knowledge; a memory stored with notions,
which the imagination may cull out to compose
new assemblages. Whatever may be the native vigour
of the mind, she can never form many combinations
from few ideas, as many changes cannot be
rung upon a few bells. Accident may indeed
sometimes produce a lucky parallel or a striking contrast;
but these gifts of chance are not frequent, and he
that has nothing of his own, and yet condemns
himself to needless expenses, must live upon loans or

The indulgence which his youth has hitherto
obtained, and the respect which his rank secures, have
hitherto supplied the want of intellectual qualifications;
and he imagines that all admire who applaud,
and that all who laugh are pleased. He therefore
returns every day to the charge with increase of
courage, though not of strength, and practises all the
tricks by which wit is counterfeited. He lays trains
for a quibble; he contrives blunders for his footman;
he adapts old stories to present characters; he mistakes
the question, that he may return a smart answer;
he anticipates the argument, that he may
plausibly object; when he has nothing to reply, he
repeats the last words of his antagonist, then says,
"your humble servant," and concludes with a laugh
of triumph.

These mistakes I have honestly attempted to
correct; but what can be expected from reason
unsupported by fashion, splendour, or authority? He
hears me, indeed, or appears to hear me, but is soon
rescued from the lecture by more pleasing avocations;
and shows, diversions, and caresses, drive my
precepts from his remembrance.

He at last imagines himself qualified to enter the
world, and has met with adventures in his first sally,
which I shall, by your paper, communicate to the

I am, &c.


No. 195. TUESDAY, JANUARY 28, 1752

--------Nescit equo rudis
Haerere ingenuus puer,
Venarique timet doctior,
Seu Graeco jubeas trocho,
Seu malis vetita legibus alea. HOR. Lib. iii. Ode xxiv. 54.

Nor knows our youth, of noblest race,
To mount the manag'd steed, or urge the chace;
More skill'd in the mean arts of vice,
The whirling troque, or law-forbidden dice. FRANCIS.



FAVOURS of every kind are doubled when they
are speedily conferred. This is particularly true
of the gratification of curiosity. He that long delays
a story, and suffers his auditor to torment himself
with expectation, will seldom be able to recompense
the uneasiness, or equal the hope which he suffers
to be raised.

For this reason, I have already sent you the
continuation of my pupil's history, which, though it
contains no events very uncommon, may be of use
to young men who are in too much haste to trust
their own prudence, and quit the wing of protection
before they are able to shift for themselves.

When he first settled in London, he was so much
bewildered in the enormous extent of the town, so
confounded by incessant noise, and crowds, and
hurry, and so terrified by rural narratives of the arts
of sharpers, the rudeness of the populace, malignity
of porters, and treachery of coachmen, that he was
afraid to go beyond the door without an attendant,
and imagined his life in danger if he was obliged
to pass the streets at night in any vehicle but his
mother's chair.

He was therefore contented, for a time, that I
should accompany him in all his excursions. But his
fear abated as he grew more familiar with its objects;
and the contempt to which his rusticity exposed him
from such of his companions as had accidentally
known the town longer, obliged him to dissemble
his remaining terrours.

His desire of liberty made him now willing to
spare me the trouble of observing his motions; but
knowing how much his ignorance exposed him to
mischief, I thought it cruel to abandon him to the
fortune of the town. We went together every day
to a coffee-house, where he met wits, heirs, and fops,
airy, ignorant, and thoughtless as himself, with
whom he had become acquainted at card-tables, and
whom he considered as the only beings to be envied
or admired. What were their topicks of conversation,
I could never discover; for, so much was their
vivacity repressed by my intrusive seriousness, that
they seldom proceeded beyond the exchange of nods
and shrugs, an arch grin, or a broken hint, except
when they could retire, while I was looking on the
papers, to a corner of the room, where they seemed to
disburden their imaginations, and commonly vented
the superfluity of their sprightliness in a peal of
laughter. When they had tittered themselves into
negligence, I could sometimes overhear a few syllables,
such as--solemn rascal--academical airs--
smoke the tutor--company for gentlemen!--and
other broken phrases, by which I did not suffer my
quiet to be disturbed, for they never proceeded to
avowed indignities, but contented themselves to
murmur in secret, and, whenever I turned my eye
upon them, shrunk into stillness.

He was, however, desirous of withdrawing from
the subjection which he could not venture to break,
and made a secret appointment to assist his
companions in the persecution of a play. His footman
privately procured him a catcall, on which he
practised in a back-garret for two hours in the afternoon.
At the proper time a chair was called; he pretended
an engagement at lady Flutter's, and hastened to
the place where his critical associates had assembled.
They hurried away to the theatre, full of malignity
and denunciations against a man whose name they
had never heard, and a performance which they
could not understand; for they were resolved to
judge for themselves, and would not suffer the
town to be imposed upon by scribblers. In the pit,
they exerted themselves with great spirit and vivacity;
called out for the tunes of obscene songs, talked
loudly at intervals of Shakespeare and Jonson,
played on their catcalls a short prelude of terrour,
clamoured vehemently for a prologue, and clapped
with great dexterity at the first entrance of the

Two scenes they heard without attempting
interruption; but, being no longer able to restrain their
impatience, they then began to exert themselves in
groans and hisses, and plied their catcalls with
incessant diligence; so that they were soon considered by
the audience as disturbers of the house; and some
who sat near them, either provoked at the obstruction
of their entertainment, or desirous to preserve
the author from the mortification of seeing his hopes
destroyed by children, snatched away their instruments
of criticism, and, by the seasonable vibration
of a stick, subdued them instantaneously to decency
and silence.

To exhilarate themselves after this vexatious
defeat, they posted to a tavern, where they recovered
their alacrity, and, after two hours of obstreperous
jollity, burst out big with enterprize, and panting
for some occasion to signalize their prowess. They
proceeded vigorously through two streets, and with
very little opposition dispersed a rabble of drunkards
less daring than themselves, then rolled two watchmen
in the kennel, and broke the windows of a tavern
in which the fugitives took shelter. At last it was
determined to march up to a row of chairs, and
demolish them for standing on the pavement; the
chairmen formed a line of battle, and blows were
exchanged for a time with equal courage on both sides.

At last the assailants were overpowered, and the
chairmen, when they knew their captives, brought
them home by force.

The young gentleman, next morning, hung his
head, and was so much ashamed of his outrages and
defeat, that perhaps he might have been checked in
his first follies, had not his mother, partly in pity of
his dejection, and partly in approbation of his spirit,
relieved him from his perplexity by paying the damages
privately, and discouraging all animadversion
and reproof.

This indulgence could not wholly preserve him
from the remembrance of his disgrace, nor at once
restore his confidence and elation. He was for three
days silent, modest, and compliant, and thought
himself neither too wise for instruction, nor too
manly for restraint. But his levity overcame this
salutary sorrow; he began to talk with his former
raptures of masquerades, taverns, and frolicks;
blustered when his wig was not combed with exactness;
and threatened destruction to a tailor who had
mistaken his directions about the pocket.

I knew that he was now rising again above
control, and that his inflation of spirits would burst
out into some mischievous absurdity. I therefore
watched him with great attention; but one evening,
having attended his mother at a visit, he withdrew
himself, unsuspected, while the company was engaged
at cards. His vivacity and officiousness were
soon missed, and his return impatiently expected;
supper was delayed, and conversation suspended;
every coach that rattled through the street was
expected to bring him, and every servant that entered
the room was examined concerning his departure.
At last the lady returned home, and was with great
difficulty preserved from fits by spirits and cordials.
The family was despatched a thousand ways without
success, and the house was filled with distraction,
till, as we were deliberating what further measures
to take, he returned from a petty gaming-table,
with his coat torn and his head broken; without his
sword, snuff-box, sleeve-buttons, and watch.

Of this loss or robbery, he gave little account; but,
instead of sinking into his former shame, endeavoured
to support himself by surliness and asperity.

"He was not the first that had played away a few
trifles, and of what use were birth and fortune if
they would not admit some sallies and expenses?"
His mamma was so much provoked by the cost of
this prank, that she would neither palliate nor
conceal it; and his father, after some threats of
rustication which his fondness would not suffer him to
execute, reduce the allowance of his pocket, that
he might not be tempted by plenty to profusion.
This method would have succeeded in a place
where there are no panders to folly and
extravagance, but was now likely to have produced
pernicious consequences; for we have discovered a
treaty with a broker, whose daughter he seems
disposed to marry, on condition that he shall be supplied
with present money, for which he is to repay thrice
the value at the death of his father.

There was now no time to be lost. A domestick
consultation was immediately held, and he was
doomed to pass two years in the country; but his
mother, touched with his tears, declared, that she
thought him too much of a man to be any longer
confined to his book, and he therefore begins his
travels to-morrow under a French governour.

I am, &c.


No. 196. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 1752

Multa ferunt anni venientes commoda secum,
Multa recedentes adimunt.---- HOR. De Ar. Poet. 175.

The blessings flowing in with life's full tide,
Down with our ebb of life decreasing glide. FRANCIS.

BAXTER, in the narrative of his own life, has
enumerated several opinions, which, though he
thought them evident and incontestable at his first
entrance into the world, time and experience
disposed him to change.

Whoever reviews the state of his own mind from
the dawn of manhood to its decline, and considers
what he pursued or dreaded, slighted or esteemed,
at different periods of his age, will have no reason
to imagine such changes of sentiment peculiar to
any station or character. Every man, however careless
and inattentive, has conviction forced upon
him; the lectures of time obtrude themselves upon
the most unwilling or dissipated auditor; and,
by comparing our past with our present thoughts,
we perceive that we have changed our minds,
though perhaps we cannot discover when the
alteration happened, or by what causes it was

This revolution of sentiments occasions a
perpetual contest between the old and young. They
who imagine themselves entitled to veneration by
the prerogative of longer life, are inclined to treat
the notions of those whose conduct they superintend
with superciliousness and contempt, for want of
considering that the future and the past have different
appearances; that the disproportion will always be
great between expectation and enjoyment, between
new possession and satiety; that the truth of many
maxims of age gives too little pleasure to be allowed
till it is felt; and that the miseries of life would be
increased beyond all human power of endurance, if
we were to enter the world with the same opinions
as we carry from it.

We naturally indulge those ideas that please us.
Hope will predominate in every mind, till it has
been suppressed by frequent disappointments. The
youth has not yet discovered how many evils are
continually hovering about us, and when he is set
free from the shackles of discipline, looks abroad
into the world with rapture; he sees an elysian
region open before him, so variegated with beauty,
and so stored with pleasure, that his care is rather
to accumulate good, than to shun evil; he stands
distracted by different forms of delight, and has no
other doubt, than which path to follow of those
which all lead equally to the bowers of happiness.

He who has seen only the superficies of life
believes everything to be what it appears, and rarely
suspects that external splendour conceals any latent
sorrow or vexation. He never imagines that there
may be greatness without safety, affluence without
content, jollity without friendship, and solitude without
peace. He fancies himself permitted to cull the
blessings of every condition, and to leave its
inconveniences to the idle and the ignorant. He is
inclined to believe no man miserable but by his own
fault, and seldom looks with much pity upon failings
or miscarriages, because he thinks them willingly
admitted, or negligently incurred.

It is impossible, without pity and contempt, to
hear a youth of generous sentiments and warm
imagination, declaring, in the moment of openness and
confidence, his designs and expectations; because
long life is possible, he considers it as certain, and
therefore promises himself all the changes of happiness,
and provides gratifications for every desire.
He is, for a time, to give himself wholly to frolick
and diversion, to range the world in search of
pleasure, to delight every eye, to gain every heart, and
to be celebrated equally for his pleasing levities and
solid attainments, his deep reflections and his sparkling
repartees. He then elevates his views to nobler
enjoyments, and finds all the scattered excellencies
of the female world united in a woman, who prefers
his addresses to wealth and titles; he is afterwards
to engage in business, to dissipate difficulty, and
overpower opposition: to climb, by the mere force
of merit, to fame and greatness; and reward all those
who countenanced his rise, or paid due regard to
his early excellence. At last he will retire in peace
and honour; contract his views to domestick pleasures;
form the manners of children like himself;
observe how every year expands the beauty of his
daughters, and how his sons catch ardour from their
father's history; he will give laws to the neighbourhood;
dictate axioms to posterity; and leave the
world an example of wisdom and happiness.

With hopes like these, he sallies jocund into life;
to little purpose is he told, that the condition of
humanity admits no pure and unmingled happiness;
that the exuberant gaiety of youth ends in poverty
or disease; that uncommon qualifications and
contrarieties of excellence, produce envy equally with
applause; that whatever admiration and fondness
may promise him, he must marry a wife like the
wives of others, with some virtues and some faults,
and be as often disgusted by her vices, as delighted
by her elegance; that if he adventures into the circle
of action, he must expect to encounter men as
artful, as daring, as resolute as himself; that of his
children, some may be deformed, and others vicious;
some may disgrace him by their follies, some offend
him by their insolence, and some exhaust him by
their profusion. He hears all this with obstinate
incredulity, and wonders by what malignity old age
is influenced, that it cannot forbear to fill his ears
with predictions of misery.

Among other pleasing errours of young minds,
is the opinion of their own importance. He that has
not yet remarked, how little attention his contemporaries
can spare from their own affairs, conceives
all eyes turned upon himself, and imagines every
one that approaches him to be an enemy or a
follower, an admirer or a spy. He therefore considers
his fame as involved in the event of every action.
Many of the virtues and vices of youth proceed
from this quick sense of reputation. This it is that
gives firmness and constancy, fidelity, and disinterestedness,
and it is this that kindles resentment for
slight injuries, and dictates all the principles of
sanguinary honour.

But as time brings him forward into the world,
he soon discovers that he only shares fame or reproach
with innumerable partners; that he is left
unmarked in the obscurity of the crowd; and that
what he does, whether good or bad, soon gives way
to new objects of regard. He then easily sets
himself free from the anxieties of reputation, and
considers praise or censure as a transient breath, which,
while he hears it, is passing away, without any
lasting mischief or advantage.

In youth, it is common to measure right and
wrong by the opinion of the world, and, in age, to
act without any measure but interest, and to lose
shame without substituting virtue.

Such is the condition of life, that something is
always wanting to happiness. In youth, we have
warm hopes, which are soon blasted by rashness and
negligence, and great designs, which are defeated
by inexperience. In age, we have knowledge and
prudence without spirit to exert, or motives to
prompt them; we are able to plan schemes and
regulate measures, but have not time remaining to
bring them to completion.

No. 197. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 1752

Cujus vulturis hoc erit cadaver? MART. Lib. vi. Ep. lxii. 4.

Say, to what vulture's share this carcase falls? F. LEWIS.



I BELONG to an order of mankind, considerable
at least for their number, to which your notice
has never been formally extended, though equally
entitled to regard with those triflers, who have
hitherto supplied you with topicks of amusement
or instruction. I am, Mr. Rambler, a legacy-hunter;
and, as every man is willing to think well of the
tribe in which his name is registered, you will
forgive my vanity, if I remind you that the legacy-
hunter, however degraded by an ill-compounded
appellation in our barbarous language, was known, as
I am told, in ancient Rome, by the sonorous titles
of Captator and Haeredipeta.

My father was an attorney in the country, who
married his master's daughter in hopes of a fortune
which he did not obtain, having been, as he afterwards
discovered, chosen by her only because she
had no better offer, and was afraid of service. I was
the first offspring of a marriage, thus reciprocally
fraudulent, and therefore could not be expected to
inherit much dignity or generosity, and if I had
them not from nature, was not likely ever to attain
them; for, in the years which I spent at home, I
never heard any reason for action or forbearance, but
that we should gain money or lose it; nor was
taught any other style of commendation, than that
Mr. Sneaker is a warm man, Mr. Gripe has done
his business, and needs care for nobody.

My parents, though otherwise not great philosophers,
knew the force of early education, and took
care that the blank of my understanding should be
filled with impressions of the value of money. My
mother used, upon all occasions, to inculcate some
salutary axioms, such as might incite me to KEEP
WHAT I HAD, AND GET WHAT I COULD; she informed me
that we were in a world, where ALL MUST CATCH THAT
CATCH CAN; and as I grew up, stored my memory
with deeper observations; restrained me from the
usual puerile expenses, by remarking that MANY A
LITTLE MADE A MICKLE; and, when I envied the finery
of my neighbours, told me that BRAG WAS A GOOD

I was soon sagacious enough to discover that I
was not born to great wealth; and having heard no
other name for happiness, was sometimes inclined
to repine at my condition. But my mother always
relieved me, by saying, that there was money enough
in the family, that IT WAS GOOD TO BE OF KIN TO MEANS,
that I had nothing to do but to please my friends,
and I might come to hold up my head with the
best squire in the country.

These splendid expectations arose from our
alliance to three persons of considerable fortune. My
mother's aunt had attended on a lady, who, when
she died, rewarded her officiousness and fidelity
with a large legacy. My father had two relations,
of whom one had broken his indentures and run to
sea, from whence, after an absence of thirty years,
he returned with ten thousand pounds; and the
other had lured an heiress out of a window, who,
dying of her first child, had left him her estate, on
which he lived, without any other care than to
collect his rents, and preserve from poachers that
game which he could not kill himself.

These hoarders of money were visited and courted
by all who had any pretence to approach them, and
received presents and compliments from cousins
who could scarcely tell the degree of their relation.
But we had peculiar advantages, which encouraged
us to hope, that we should by degrees supplant our
competitors. My father, by his profession, made
himself necessary in their affairs, for the sailor and
the chambermaid, he inquired out mortgages and
securities, and wrote bonds and contracts; and had
endeared himself to the old woman, who once rashly
lent an hundred pounds without consulting him, by
informing her, that her debtor, was on the point
of bankruptcy, and posting so expeditiously with
an execution, that all the other creditors were

To the squire he was a kind of steward, and had
distinguished himself in his office by his address in
raising the rents, his inflexibility in distressing the
tardy tenants, and his acuteness in setting the parish
free from burdensome inhabitants, by shifting
them of to some other settlement.

Business made frequent attendance necessary;
trust soon produced intimacy; and success gave a
claim to kindness; so that we had opportunity to
practise all the arts of flattery and endearment.
My mother, who could not support the thoughts
of losing any thing, determined, that all their
fortunes should centre in me; and, in the prosecution
of her schemes, took care to inform me that NOTHING
COST LESS THAN GOOD WORDS, and that it is comfortable
to leap into an estate which another has got.

She trained me by these precepts to the utmost
ductility of obedience, and the closest attention to
profit. At an age when other boys are sporting in
the fields or murmuring in the school, I was
contriving some new method of paying my court;
inquiring the age of my future benefactors; or
considering how I should employ their legacies.

If our eagerness of money could have been
satisfied with the possessions of any one of my relations,
they might perhaps have been obtained; but as it
was impossible to be always present with all three,
our competitors were busy to efface any trace of
affection which we might have left behind; and
since there was not, on any part, such superiority
of merit as could enforce a constant and unshaken
preference, whoever was the last that flattered or
obliged, had, for a time, the ascendant.

My relations maintained a regular exchange of
courtesy, took care to miss no occasion of condolence
or congratulation, and sent presents at stated
times, but had in their hearts not much esteem for
one another. The seaman looked with contempt
upon the squire as a milksop and a landman, who
had lived without knowing the points of the compass,
or seeing any part of the world beyond the
county-town; and whenever they met, would talk
of longitude and latitude, and circles and tropicks,
would scarcely tell him the hour without some
mention of the horizon and meridian, nor shew him
the news without detecting his ignorance of the
situation of other countries.

The squire considered the sailor as a rude
uncultivated savage, with little more of human than his
form, and diverted himself with his ignorance of all
common objects and affairs; when he could persuade
him to go into the field, he always exposed him to
the sportsmen, by sending him to look for game in
improper places; and once prevailed upon him to
be present at the races, only that he might shew
the gentlemen how a sailor sat upon a horse.

The old gentlewoman thought herself wiser than
both, for she lived with no servant but a maid, and
saved her money. The others were indeed sufficiently
frugal; but the squire could not live without dogs
and horses, and the sailor never suffered the day to
pass but over a bowl of punch, to which, as he was
not critical in the choice of his company, every man
was welcome that could roar out a catch, or tell a

All these, however, I was to please; an arduous
task; but what will not youth and avarice undertake?
I had an unresisting suppleness of temper,
and an insatiable wish for riches; I was perpetually
instigated by the ambition of my parents, and assisted
occasionally by their instructions. What these
advantages enabled me to perform, shall be told in
the next letter of,

Yours, &c.


No. 198. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 8. 1752

Nil mihi das das vivus: dicis, post; fata daturum.
Si non es stultus, scis, Maro, quid cupiam.
MART. Lib. xi. 67.

You've told me, Maro, whilst you live,
You'd not a single penny give,
But that whene'er you chance to die.
You'd leave a handsome legacy:
You must be mad beyond redress,
If my next wish you cannot guess. F. LEWIS.



YOU, who must have observed the inclination
which almost every man, however unactive or
insignificant, discovers of representing his life as
distinguished by extraordinary events, will not wonder
that Captator thinks his narrative important enough
to be continued. Nothing is more common than for
those to tease their companions with their history,
who have neither done nor suffered any thing that
can excite curiosity, or afford instruction.
As I was taught to flatter with the first essays
of speech, and had very early lost every other
passion in the desire of money, I began my pursuit
with omens of success; for I divided my officiousness
so judiciously among my relations, that I was equally
the favourite of all. When any of them entered the
door, I went to welcome him with raptures; when he
went away, I hung down my head, and sometimes
entreated to go with him with so much importunity,
that I very narrowly escaped a consent which I
dreaded in my heart. When at an annual entertainment
they were altogether, I had a harder task; but
plied them so impartially with caresses, that none
could charge me with neglect; and when they were
wearied with my fondness and civilities, I was always
dismissed with money to buy playthings.

Life cannot be kept at a stand: the years of
innocence and prattle were soon at an end, and other
qualifications were necessary to recommend me to
continuance of kindness. It luckily happened that
none of my friends had high notions of book-learning.
The sailor hated to see tall boys shut up in a
school, when they might more properly be seeing
the world, and making their fortunes; and was of
opinion, that when the first rules of arithmetick
were known, all that was necessary to make a man
complete might be learned on ship-board. The squire
only insisted, that so much scholarship was
indispensibly necessary, as might confer ability to draw
a lease and read the court hands; and the old
chambermaid declared loudly her contempt of books,
and her opinion that they only took the head off!
the main chance.

To unite, as well as we could, all their systems,
I was bred at home. Each was taught to believe,
that I followed his directions, and I gained likewise,
as my mother observed, this advantage, that
I was always in the way; for she had known many
favourite children sent to schools or academies, and

As I grew fitter to be trusted to my own
discretion, I was often despatched upon various
pretences to visit my relations, with directions from
my parents how to ingratiate myself, and drive
away competitors.

I was from my infancy, considered by the sailor
as a promising genius, because I liked punch better
than wine; and I took care to improve this
prepossession by continual inquiries about the art of
navigation, the degree of heat and cold in different
climates, the profits of trade, and the dangers of
shipwreck. I admired the courage of the seamen,
and gained his heart by importuning him for a recital
of his adventures, and a sight of his foreign curiosities.
I listened with an appearance of close attention
to stories which I could already repeat, and at the
close never failed to express my resolution to visit
distant countries, and my contempt of the cowards
and drones that spend all their lives in their native
parish; though I had in reality no desire of any thing
but money, nor ever felt the stimulations of curiosity
or ardour of adventure, but would contentedly
have passed the years of Nestor in receiving rents,
and lending upon mortgages.

The squire I was able to please with less
hypocrisy, for I really thought it pleasant enough to kill
the game and eat it. Some arts of falsehood, however,
the hunger of gold persuaded me to practise,
by which, though no other mischief was produced,
the purity of my thoughts was vitiated, and the
reverence for truth gradually destroyed. I sometimes
purchased fish, and pretended to have caught them;
I hired the countrymen to shew me partridges, and
then gave my uncle intelligence of their haunt; I
learned the seats of hares at night, and discovered
them in the morning with a sagacity that raised the
wonder and envy of old sportsmen. One only
obstruction to the advancement of my reputation I
could never fully surmount; I was naturally a coward,
and was therefore always left shamefully behind,
when there was a necessity to leap a hedge, to
swim a river, or force the horses to the utmost speed;
but as these exigencies did not frequently happen,
I maintained my honour with sufficient success, and
was never left out of a hunting party.

The old chambermaid was not so certainly, nor so
easily pleased, for she had no predominant passion
but avarice, and was therefore cold and inaccessible.
She had no conception of any virtue in a young man
but that of saving his money. When she heard of my
exploits in the field, she would shake her head,
inquire how much I should be the richer for all my
performances, and lament that such sums should be
spent upon dogs and horses. If the sailor told her of
my inclination to travel, she was sure there was no
place like England, and could not imagine why any
man that can live in his own country should leave
it. This sullen and frigid being I found means,
however, to propitiate by frequent commendations of
frugality, and perpetual care to avoid expense.

From the sailor was our first and most
considerable expectation; for he was richer than the
chambermaid and older than the squire. He was so
awkward and bashful among women, that we concluded
him secure from matrimony; and the noisy
fondness with which he used to welcome me to his
house, made us imagine that he would look out for
no other heir, and that we had nothing to do but
wait patiently for his death. But in the midst of our
triumph, my uncle saluted us one morning with a cry
of transport, and, clapping his hand hard on my shoulder,
told me, I was a happy fellow to have a friend
like him in the world, for he came to fit me out for
a voyage with one of his old acquaintances. I turned
pale, and trembled; my father told him, that he
believed my constitution not fitted to the sea; and my
mother, bursting into tears, cried out, that her heart
would break if she lost me. All this had no effect;
the sailor was wholly insusceptive of the softer
passions, and, without regard to tears or arguments,
persisted in his resolution to make me a man.

We were obliged to comply in appearance, and
preparations were accordingly made. I took leave of
my friends with great alacrity, proclaimed the
beneficence of my uncle with the highest strains of
gratitude, and rejoiced at the opportunity now put into
my hands of gratifying my thirst of knowledge.
But, a week before the day appointed for my departure,
I fell sick by my mother's direction, and
refused all food but what she privately brought me;
whenever my uncle visited me I was lethargick or
delirious, but took care in my raving fits to talk
incessantly of travel and merchandize. The room was
kept dark; the table was filled with vials and
gallipots; my mother was with difficulty persuaded not
to endanger her life with nocturnal attendance; my
father lamented the loss of the profits of the voyage;
and such superfluity of artifices was employed, as
perhaps might have discovered the cheat to a man
of penetration. But the sailor, unacquainted with
subtilties and stratagems, was easily deluded; and
as the ship could not stay for my recovery, sold
the cargo, and left me to re-establish my health at

I was sent to regain my flesh in a purer air, lest it
should appear never to have been wasted, and in
two months returned to deplore my disappointment.
My uncle pitied my dejection, and bid me prepare
myself against next year, for no land-lubber should
touch his money.

A reprieve however was obtained, and perhaps
some new stratagem might have succeeded another
spring; but my uncle unhappily made amorous
advances to my mother's maid, who, to promote so
advantageous a match, discovered the secret with
which only she had been entrusted. He stormed,
and raved, and declaring that he would have heirs
of his own, and not give his substance to cheats and
cowards, married the girl in two days, and has now
four children.

Cowardice is always scorned, and deceit universally
detested. I found my friends, if not wholly
alienated, at least cooled in their affection; the squire,
though he did not wholly discard me, was less fond,
and often inquired when I would go to sea. I was
obliged to bear his insults, and endeavoured to
rekindle his kindness by assiduity and respect; but all
my care was vain; he died without a will, and the
estate devolved to the legal heir.

Thus has the folly of my parents condemned me
to spend in flattery and attendance those years in
which I might have been qualified to place myself
above hope or fear. I am arrived at manhood without
any useful art, or generous sentiment; and, if
the old woman should likewise at last deceive me,
am in danger at once of beggary and ignorance.

I am, &c.


No. 199. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 1752

Decolor, obscurus, vilis. Non ille repexam
Caesariem Regum, nec candida virginis ornat
Colla, nec insigni splendet per cingula morsu.
Sed nova si nigri videas miracula saxi,
Tum pulcros superat cultus, et quidquid Eois
Indus litoribus rubra scrutatur in alga.

CLAUDIANUS, xlviii. 10.

Obscure, upris'd, and dark, the magnet lies,
Nor lures the search of avaricious eyes,
Nor binds the neck, nor sparkles in the hair,
Nor dignifies the great, nor decks the fair.
But search the wonders of the dusky stone,
And own all glories of the mine outdone,
Each grace of form, each ornament of state,
That decks the fair, or dignifies the great.



THOUGH you have seldom digressed from
moral subjects, I suppose you are not so rigorous
or cynical as to deny the value or usefulness
of natural philosophy; or to have lived in this age
of inquiry and experiment, without any attention to
the wonders every day produced by the pokers
of magnetism and the wheels of electricity. At
least, I may be allowed to hope that, since nothing
is more contrary to moral excellence than envy,
you will not refuse to promote the happiness of
others, merely because you cannot partake of their

In confidence, therefore, that your ignorance has
not made you an enemy to knowledge, I offer you
the honour of introducing to the notice of the
publick, an adept, who, having long laboured for the
benefit of mankind, is not willing, like too many of
his predecessors, to conceal his secrets in the grave.

Many have signalized themselves by melting their
estates in crucibles. I was born to no fortune, and
therefore had only my mind and body to devote to
knowledge, and the gratitude of posterity will attest,
that neither mind nor body have been spared.
I have sat whole weeks without sleep by the side
of an athanor, to watch the moment of projection;
I have made the first experiment in nineteen diving
engines of new construction; I have fallen eleven
times speechless under the shock of electricity; I
have twice dislocated my limbs, and once fractured
my skull, in essaying to fly[c]; and four times
endangered my life by submitting to the transfusion of

[c] In the sixth chapter of Rasselas we have an excellent story
of an experimentalist in the art of flying. Dr. Johnson sketched
perhaps from life, for we are informed that he once lodged in the
same house with a man who broke his legs in the daring attempt.

In the first period of my studies, I exerted the
powers of my body more than those of my mind,
and was not without hopes that fame might be
purchased by a few broken bones without the toil of
thinking; but having been shattered by some violent
experiments, and constrained to confine myself to
my books, I passed six and thirty years in searching
the treasures of ancient wisdom, but am at last amply
recompensed for all my perseverance.

The curiosity of the present race of philosophers,
having been long exercised upon electricity, has been
lately transformed to magnetism; the qualities of
the loadstone have been investigated, if not with
much advantage, yet with great applause; and as the
highest praise of art is to imitate nature, I hope no
man will think the makers of artificial magnets
celebrated or reverenced above their deserts.

I have for some time employed myself in the same
practice, but with deeper knowledge and more extensive
views. While my contemporaries were touching
needles and raising weights, or busying themselves
with inclination and variation, I have been
examining those qualities of magnetism which may be
applied to the accommodation and happiness of common
life. I have left to inferior understandings the
care of conducting the sailor through the hazards of
the ocean, and reserve to myself the more difficult
and illustrious province of preserving the connubial
compact from violation, and setting mankind free for
ever from the danger of suppositious children, and the
torment of fruitless vigilance and anxious suspicion.

To defraud any man of his due praise is unworthy
of a philosopher; I shall therefore openly confess,
that I owe the first hint of this inestimable secret
to the Rabbi Abraham Ben Hannase, who, in his
treatise of precious stones, has left this account of
the magnet: , &c. "The calamita, or
loadstone that attracts iron, produces many bad
fantasies in man. Women fly from this stone. If
therefore any husband be disturbed with jealousy, and fear
lest his wife converses with other men, let him lay
this stone upon her while she is asleep. If she be pure,
she will, when she wakes, clasp her husband fondly in
her arms; but if she be guilty, she will fall out of
bed, and run away."

When I first read this wonderful passage, I could
not easily conceive why it had remained hitherto
unregarded in such a zealous competition for
magnetical fame. I would surely be unjust to suspect
that any of the candidates are strangers to the name
or works of Rabbi Abraham, or to conclude, from
a late edict of the Royal Society in favour of the
English language, that philosophy and literature
are no longer to act in concert. Yet, how should a
quality so useful escape promulgation, but by the
obscurity of the language in which it was delivered?
Why are footmen and chambermaids paid on every
side for keeping secrets, which no caution nor expense
could secure from the all penetrating magnet?
Or, why are so many witnesses summoned, and so
many artifices practised, to discover what so easy an
experiment would infallibly reveal?

Full of this perplexity, I read the lines of Abraham
to a friend, who advised me not to expose my
life by a mad indulgence of the love of fame; he
warned me by the fate of Orpheus, that knowledge
or genius could give no protection to the invader of
female prerogatives; assured me that neither the
armour of Achilles, nor the antidote of Mithridates,
would be able to preserve me; and counselled me,
if I could not live without renown, to attempt the
acquisition of universal empire, in which the honour
would perhaps be equal, and the danger certainly
be less.

I, a solitary student, pretend not to much
knowledge of the world, but am unwilling to think it so
generally corrupt, as that a scheme for the detection
of incontinence should bring any danger upon
its inventor. My friend has indeed told me that all
the women will be my enemies, and that, however
I flatter myself with hopes of defence from the
men, I shall certainly find myself deserted in the
hour of danger. Of the young men, said he, some
will be afraid of sharing the disgrace of their mothers,
and some the danger of their mistresses; of those
who are married, part are already convinced of the
falsehood of their wives, and part shut their eyes to
avoid conviction; few ever sought for virtue in
marriage, and therefore few will try whether they
have found it. Almost every man is careless or
timorous, and to trust is easier and safer than to

These observations discouraged me, till I began
to consider what reception I was likely to find among
the ladies, whom I have reviewed under the three
classes of maids, wives, and widows, and cannot but
hope that I may obtain some countenance among
them. The single ladies I suppose universally ready
to patronise my method, by which connubial wickedness
may be detected, since no woman marries with
a previous design to be unfaithful to her husband.
And to keep them steady in my cause, I promise
never to sell one of my magnets to a man who
steals a girl from school; marries a woman of forty
years younger than himself; or employs the authority
of parents to obtain a wife without her own

Among the married ladies, notwithstanding the
insinuations of slander, yet I resolve to believe, that
the greater part are my friends, and am at least
convinced, that they who demand the test, and
appear on my side, will supply, by their spirit, the
deficiency of their numbers, and that their enemies
will shrink and quake at the sight of a magnet, as
the slaves of Scythia fled from the scourge.

The widows will be confederated in my favour by
their curiosity, if not by their virtue; for it may be
observed, that women who have outlived their husbands,
always think themselves entitled to superintend
the conduct of young wives; and as they are
themselves in no danger from this magnetick trial,
I shall expect them to be eminently and unanimously
zealous in recommending it.

With these hopes I shall, in a short time, offer to
sale magnets armed with a particular metallick
composition, which concentrates their virtue, and
determines their agency. It is known that the efficacy
of the magnet, in common operations, depends
much upon its armature, and it cannot be imagined,
that a stone, naked, or cased only in a common
manner, will discover the virtues ascribed to it by
Rabbi Abraham. The secret of this metal I shall
carefully conceal, and, therefore, am not afraid of
imitators, nor shall trouble the offices with
solicitations for a patent.

I shall sell them of different sizes, and various
degrees of strength. I have some of a bulk proper
to be hung at the bed's head, as scare-crows, and
some so small that they may be easily concealed.
Some I have ground into oral forms to be hung at
watches; and some, for the curious, I have set in
wedding rings, that ladies may never want an
attestation of their innocence. Some I can produce so
sluggish and inert, that they will not act before the
third failure; and others so vigorous and animated,
that they exert their influence against unlawful
wishes, if they have been willingly and deliberately
indulged. As it is my practice honestly to tell my
customers the properties of my magnets, I can
judge, by their choice, of the delicacy of their
sentiments. Many have been content to spare cost
by purchasing only the lowest degree of efficacy,
and all have started with terrour from those which
operate upon the thoughts. One young lady only
fitted on a ring of the strongest energy, and
declared that she scorned to separate her wishes from
her acts, or allow herself to think what she was
forbidden to practice.

I am, &c.


No. 200. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 1752.
Nemo petit, modicis quae mittebantur amicis
A Seneca, quae Piso bonus, quae Cotta solebat
Largiri; namque et titulis, es fascibus olim
Major habebatur dornandi gloria: solum
Poscimus, ut coenes civiliter. Hoc face, et esto,
Esto, ut nunc multi, dives tibi, pauper amicis. Juv. Sat. v.

No man expects (for who so much a sot
Who has the times he lives in so forgot?)
What Seneca, what Piso us'd to send,
To raise or to support a sinking friend.
Those godlike men, to wanting virtue kind,
Bounty well plac'd, preferr'd, and well design'd,
To all their titles, all that height of pow'r,
Which turns the brains of fools, and fools alone adore.
When your poor client is condemn'd t' attend,
'Tis all we ask, to receive him as a friend:
Descend to this, and then we ask no more;
Rich to yourself, to all beside be poor. BOWLES.



SUCH is the tenderness or infirmity of many
minds, that when any affliction oppresses them,
they have immediate recourse to lamentation and
complaint, which, though it can only be allowed
reasonable when evils admit of remedy, and then only
when addressed to those from whom the remedy is
expected, yet seems even in hopeless and incurable
distresses to be natural, since those by whom it is
not indulged, imagine that they give a proof of
extraordinary fortitude by suppressing it.

I am one of those who, with the Sancho of Cervantes,
leave to higher characters the merit of suffering
in silence, and give vent without scruple to
any sorrow that swells in my heart. It is therefore
to me a severe aggravation of a calamity, when it is
such as in the common opinion will not justify the
acerbity of exclamation, or support the solemnity of
vocal grief. Yet many pains are incident to a man of
delicacy, which the unfeeling world cannot be
persuaded to pity, and which, when they are separated
from their peculiar and personal circumstances, will
never be considered as important enough to claim
attention, or deserve redress.

Of this kind will appear to gross and vulgar
apprehensions, the miseries which I endured in a morning
visit to Prospero, a man lately raised to wealth by a
lucky project, and too much intoxicated by sudden
elevation, or too little polished by thought and
conversation, to enjoy his present fortune with elegance
and decency.

We set out in the world together; and for a long
time mutually assisted each other in our exigencies,
as either happened to have money or influence
beyond his immediate necessities. You know that
nothing generally endears men so much as participation
of dangers and misfortunes; I therefore always
considered Prospero as united with me in the
strongest league of kindness, and imagined that our
friendship was only to be broken by the hand of
death. I felt at his sudden shoot of success an honest
and disinterested joy; but as I want no part of his
superfluities, am not willing to descend from that
equality in which we hitherto have lived.

Our intimacy was regarded by me as a dispensation
from ceremonial visits; and it was so long before
I saw him at his new house, that he gently
complained of my neglect, and obliged me to come on
a day appointed. I kept my promise, but found that
the impatience of my friend arose not from any desire
to communicate his happiness, but to enjoy his

When I told my name at the door, the footman
went to see if his master was at home, and, by the
tardiness of his return, gave me reason to suspect
that time was taken to deliberate. He then informed
me, that Prospero desired my company, and shewed
the staircase carefully secured by mats from the
pollution of my feet. The best apartments were
ostentatiously set open, that I might have a distant view
of the magnificence which I was not permitted to
approach; and my old friend receiving me with all
the insolence of condescension at the top of the stairs,
conducted me to a back room, where he told me he
always breakfasted when he had not great company.

On the floor where we sat lay a carpet covered
with a cloth, of which Prospero ordered his servant
to lift up a corner, that I might contemplate the
brightness of the colours, and the elegance of the
texture, and asked me whether I had ever seen any
thing so fine before? I did not gratify his folly with
any outcries of admiration, but coldly bade the
footman let down the cloth.

We then sat down, and I began to hope that
pride was glutted with persecution, when Prospero
desired that I would give the servant leave to adjust
the cover of my chair, which was slipt a little
aside, to shew the damask; he informed me that he
had bespoke ordinary chairs for common use, but had
been disappointed by his tradesman. I put the chair
aside with my foot, and drew another so hastily,
that I was entreated not to rumple the carpet.

Breakfast was at last set, and as I was not willing
to indulge the peevishness that began to seize me,
I commended the tea: Prospero then told me, that
another time I should taste his finest sort, but that
he had only a very small quantity remaining, and
reserved it for those whom he thought himself
obliged to treat with particular respect.

While we were conversing upon such subjects as
imagination happened to suggest, he frequently
digressed into directions to the servant that waited,
or made a slight inquiry after the jeweller or
silversmith; and once, as I was pursuing an argument
with some degree of earnestness, he started from
his posture of attention, and ordered, that if lord
Lofty called on him that morning, he should be
shown into the best parlour.

My patience was yet not wholly subdued. I was
willing to promote his satisfaction, and therefore
observed that the figures on the china were
eminently pretty. Prospero had now an opportunity of
calling for his Dresden china, which, says he, I
always associate with my chased tea-kettle. The cups
were brought; I once resolved not to have looked
upon them, but my curiosity prevailed. When I had
examined them a little, Prospero desired me to set
them down, for they who were accustomed only to
common dishes, seldom handled china with much
care. You will, I hope, commend my philosophy,
when I tell you that I did not dash his baubles to
the ground.

He was now so much elevated with his own
greatness, that he thought some humility necessary to
avert the glance of envy, and therefore told me,
with an air of soft composure, that I was not to
estimate life by external appearance, that all these
shining acquisitions had added little to his happiness,
that he still remembered with pleasure the
days in which he and I were on the level, and had
often, in the moment of reflection, been doubtful,
whether he should lose much by changing his condition
for mine.

I began now to be afraid lest his pride should, by
silence and submission be emboldened to insults
that could not easily be borne, and therefore coolly
considered, how I should repress it without such
bitterness of reproof as I was yet unwilling to use.
But he interrupted my meditation, by asking leave
to be dressed, and told me, that he had promised
to attend some ladies in the park, and, if I was
going the same way, would take me in his chariot. I
had no inclination to any other favours, and therefore
left him without any intention of seeing him
again, unless some misfortune should restore his

I am, &c.


Though I am not wholly insensible of the
provocations which my correspondent has received, I
cannot altogether commend the keenness of his
resentment, nor encourage him to persist in his
resolution of breaking off all commerce with his old
acquaintance. One of the golden precepts of
Pythagoras directs, that A FRIEND SHOULD NOT BE HATED
FOR LITTLE FAULTS; and surely he, upon whom nothing
worse can be charged, than that he mats his stairs,
and covers his carpet, and sets out his finery to show
before those whom he does not admit to use it,
has yet committed nothing that should exclude him
from common degrees of kindness. Such improprieties
often proceed rather from stupidity than
malice. Those who thus shine only to dazzle, are
influenced merely by custom and example, and neither
examine, nor are qualified to examine, the motives
of their own practice, or to state the nice limits
between elegance and ostentation. They are often
innocent of the pain which their vanity produces,
and insult others when they have no worse purpose
than to please themselves.

He that too much refines his delicacy will always
endanger his quiet. Of those with whom nature
and virtue oblige us to converse, some are ignorant
of the art of pleasing, and offend when they design
to caress; some are negligent, and gratify themselves
without regard to the quiet of another; some,
perhaps, are malicious, and feel no greater satisfaction

Book of the day: