Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Spectator, Volume 1 by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele

Part 7 out of 19

Adobe PDF icon
Download The Spectator, Volume 1 pdf
File size: 2.1 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.

* * * * *

No. 51. Saturday, April 28, 1711. Steele.

'Torquet ab Obscenis jam nunc Sermonibus Aurem.'


Mr. Spectator,

'My Fortune, Quality, and Person are such as render me as Conspicuous
as any Young Woman in Town. It is in my Power to enjoy it in all its
Vanities, but I have, from a very careful Education, contracted a
great Aversion to the forward Air and Fashion which is practised in
all Publick Places and Assemblies. I attribute this very much to the
Stile and Manners of our Plays: I was last Night at the _Funeral_,
where a Confident Lover in the Play, speaking of his Mistress, cries
_Oh that_ Harriot! _to fold these Arms about the Waste of that
Beauteous strugling, and at last yielding Fair!_ [1]

Such an Image as this ought, by no means, to be presented to a Chaste
and Regular Audience. I expect your Opinion of this Sentence, and
recommend to your Consideration, as a SPECTATOR, the conduct of the
Stage at present with Relation to Chastity and Modesty.

_I am, SIR,
Your Constant Reader
and Well-wisher._

The Complaint of this Young Lady is so just, that the Offence is [great
[2]] enough to have displeased Persons who cannot pretend to that
Delicacy and Modesty, of which she is Mistress. But there is a great
deal to be said in Behalf of an Author: If the Audience would but
consider the Difficulty of keeping up a sprightly Dialogue for five Acts
together, they would allow a Writer, when he wants Wit, and can't please
any otherwise, to help it out with a little Smuttiness. I will answer
for the Poets, that no one ever writ Bawdy for any other Reason but
Dearth of Invention. When the Author cannot strike out of himself any
more of that which he has superior to those who make up the Bulk of his
Audience, his natural Recourse is to that which he has in common with
them; and a Description which gratifies a sensual Appetite will please,
when the Author has nothing [about him to delight [3]] a refined
Imagination. It is to such a Poverty we must impute this and all other
Sentences in Plays, which are of this Kind, and which are commonly
termed Luscious Expressions.

This Expedient, to supply the Deficiencies of Wit, has been used more or
less, by most of the Authors who have succeeded on the Stage; tho' I
know but one who has professedly writ a Play upon the Basis of the
Desire of Multiplying our Species, and that is the Polite Sir _George
Etherege;_ if I understand what the Lady would be at, in the Play called
_She would if She could._ Other Poets have, here and there, given an
Intimation that there is this Design, under all the Disguises and
Affectations which a Lady may put on; but no Author, except this, has
made sure Work of it, and put the Imaginations of the Audience upon this
one Purpose, from the Beginning to the End of the Comedy. It has always
fared accordingly; for whether it be, that all who go to this Piece
would if they could, or that the Innocents go to it, to guess only what
_She would if She could_, the Play has always been well received.

It lifts an heavy empty Sentence, when there is added to it a lascivious
Gesture of Body; and when it is too low to be raised even by that, a
flat Meaning is enlivened by making it a double one. Writers, who want
_Genius_, never fail of keeping this Secret in reserve, to create a
Laugh, or raise a Clap. I, who know nothing of Women but from seeing
Plays, can give great Guesses at the whole Structure of the fair Sex, by
being innocently placed in the Pit, and insulted by the Petticoats of
their Dancers; the Advantages of whose pretty Persons are a great Help
to a dull Play. When a Poet flags in writing Lusciously, a pretty Girl
can move Lasciviously, and have the same good Consequence for the
Author. Dull Poets in this Case use their Audiences, as dull Parasites
do their Patrons; when they cannot longer divert [them [4]] with their
Wit or Humour, they bait [their [5]] Ears with something which is
agreeable to [their [6]] Temper, though below [their [7]] Understanding.
_Apicius_ cannot resist being pleased, if you give him an Account of a
delicious Meal; or _Clodius_, if you describe a Wanton Beauty: Tho' at
the same time, if you do not awake those Inclinations in them, no Men
are better Judges of what is just and delicate in Conversation. But as I
have before observed, it is easier to talk to the Man, than to the Man
of Sense.

It is remarkable, that the Writers of least Learning are best skilled in
the luscious Way. The Poetesses of the Age have done Wonders in this
kind; and we are obliged to the Lady who writ _Ibrahim_ [8], for
introducing a preparatory Scene to the very Action, when the Emperor
throws his Handkerchief as a Signal for his Mistress to follow him into
the most retired Part of the Seraglio. It must be confessed his
_Turkish_ Majesty went off with a good Air, but, methought, we made but
a sad Figure who waited without. This ingenious Gentlewoman, in this
piece of Bawdry, refined upon an Author of the same Sex, [9] who, in the
_Rover_, makes a Country Squire strip to his Holland Drawers. For
_Blunt_ is disappointed, and the Emperor is understood to go on to the
utmost. The Pleasantry of stripping almost Naked has been since
practised (where indeed it should have begun) very successfully at
_Bartholomew_ Fair.

It is not here to be omitted, that in one of the above-mentioned Female
Compositions, the _Rover_ is very frequently sent on the same Errand; as
I take it, above once every Act. This is not wholly unnatural; for, they
say, the Men-Authors draw themselves in their chief Characters, and the
Women-Writers may be allowed the same Liberty. Thus, as the Male Wit
gives his Hero a [good] Fortune, the Female gives her Heroin a great
Gallant, at the End of the Play. But, indeed, there is hardly a Play one
can go to, but the Hero or fine Gentleman of it struts off upon the same
account, and leaves us to consider what good Office he has put us to, or
to employ our selves as we please. To be plain, a Man who frequents
Plays would have a very respectful Notion of himself, were he to
recollect how often he has been used as a Pimp to ravishing Tyrants, or
successful Rakes. When the Actors make their _Exit_ on this good
Occasion, the Ladies are sure to have an examining Glance from the Pit,
to see how they relish what passes; and a few lewd Fools are very ready
to employ their Talents upon the Composure or Freedom of their Looks.
Such Incidents as these make some Ladies wholly absent themselves from
the Play-House; and others never miss the first Day of a Play, lest it
should prove too luscious to admit their going with any Countenance to
it on the second.

If Men of Wit, who think fit to write for the Stage, instead of this
pitiful way of giving Delight, would turn their Thoughts upon raising it
from good natural Impulses as are in the Audience, but are choked up by
Vice and Luxury, they would not only please, but befriend us at the same
time. If a Man had a mind to be new in his way of Writing, might not he
who is now represented as a fine Gentleman, tho' he betrays the Honour
and Bed of his Neighbour and Friend, and lies with half the Women in the
Play, and is at last rewarded with her of the best Character in it; I
say, upon giving the Comedy another Cast, might not such a one divert
the Audience quite as well, if at the Catastrophe he were found out for
a Traitor, and met with Contempt accordingly? There is seldom a Person
devoted to above one Darling Vice at a time, so that there is room
enough to catch at Men's Hearts to their Good and Advantage, if the
Poets will attempt it with the Honesty which becomes their Characters.

There is no Man who loves his Bottle or his Mistress, in a manner so
very abandoned, as not to be capable of relishing an agreeable
Character, that is no way a Slave to either of those Pursuits. A Man
that is Temperate, Generous, Valiant, Chaste, Faithful and Honest, may,
at the same time, have Wit, Humour, Mirth, Good-breeding, and Gallantry.
While he exerts these latter Qualities, twenty Occasions might be
invented to shew he is Master of the other noble Virtues. Such
Characters would smite and reprove the Heart of a Man of Sense, when he
is given up to his Pleasures. He would see he has been mistaken all this
while, and be convinced that a sound Constitution and an innocent Mind
are the true Ingredients for becoming and enjoying Life. All Men of true
Taste would call a Man of Wit, who should turn his Ambition this way, a
Friend and Benefactor to his Country; but I am at a loss what Name they
would give him, who makes use of his Capacity for contrary Purposes.


[Footnote 1: The Play is by Steele himself, the writer of this Essay.
Steele's Plays were as pure as his 'Spectator' Essays, absolutely
discarding the customary way of enforcing feeble dialogues by the
spurious force of oaths, and aiming at a wholesome influence upon his
audience. The passage here recanted was a climax of passion in one of
the lovers of two sisters, Act II., sc. I, and was thus retrenched in
subsequent editions:

'Campley.' Oh that Harriot! to embrace that beauteous--

'Lord Hardy.' Ay, Tom; but methinks your Head runs too much on the
Wedding Night only, to make your Happiness lasting;
mine is fixt on the married State; I expect my Felicity
from Lady Sharlot, in her Friendship, her Constancy,
her Piety, her household Cares, her maternal Tenderness
--You think not of any excellence of your Mistress that
is more than skin deep.']

[Footnote 2: gross]

[Footnote 3: else to gratifie]

[Footnote 4: him]

[Footnote 5: his]

[Footnote 6: his]

[Footnote 7: his]

[Footnote 8: Mary Fix, whose Tragedy of 'Ibrahim XII, Emperor of the
Turks', was first acted in 1696.]

[Footnote 9: Mrs. Aphra Behn, whose 'Rover, or the Banished Cavaliers',
is a Comedy in two Parts; first acted, Part I in 1677, Part II in 1681.]

* * * * *

No. 52. Monday, April 30, 1711. Steele.

'Omnes ut Tecum meritis pro Talibus annos
Exigat, et pulchra faciat Te prole parentem.'


* * * * *

An ingenious Correspondent, like a sprightly Wife, will always have the
last Word. I did not think my last Letter to the deformed Fraternity
would have occasioned any Answer, especially since I had promised them
so sudden a Visit: But as they think they cannot shew too great a
Veneration for my Person, they have already sent me up an Answer. As to
the Proposal of a Marriage between my self and the matchless
_Hecatissa_, I have but one Objection to it; which is, That all the
Society will expect to be acquainted with her; and who can be sure of
keeping a Woman's Heart long, where she may have so much Choice? I am
the more alarmed at this, because the Lady seems particularly smitten
with Men of their Make.

I believe I shall set my Heart upon her; and think never the worse of my
Mistress for an Epigram a smart Fellow writ, as he thought, against her;
it does but the more recommend her to me. At the same time I cannot but
discover that his Malice is stolen from _Martial_.

Tacta places, Audit a places, si non videare
Tota places, neutro, si videare, places.

Whilst in the Dark on thy soft Hand I hung,
And heard the tempting Siren in thy Tongue,
What Flames, what Darts, what Anguish I endured!
But when the Candle entered I was cur'd.

'Your Letter to us we have received, as a signal Mark of your Favour
and brotherly Affection. We shall be heartily glad to see your short
Face in _Oxford_: And since the Wisdom of our Legislature has been
immortalized in your Speculations, and our personal Deformities in
some sort by you recorded to all Posterity; we hold ourselves in
Gratitude bound to receive with the highest Respect, all such Persons
as for their extraordinary Merit you shall think fit, from Time to
Time, to recommend unto the Board. As for the Pictish Damsel, we have
an easy Chair prepared at the upper End of the Table; which we doubt
not but she will grace with a very hideous Aspect, and much better
become the Seat in the native and unaffected Uncomeliness of her
Person, than with all the superficial Airs of the Pencil, which (as
you have very ingeniously observed) vanish with a Breath, and the most
innocent Adorer may deface the Shrine with a Salutation, and in the
literal Sense of our Poets, snatch and imprint his balmy Kisses, and
devour her melting Lips: In short, the only Faces of the Pictish Kind
that will endure the Weather, must be of Dr. _Carbuncle's_ Die; tho'
his, in truth, has cost him a World the Painting; but then he boasts
with _Zeuxes, In eternitatem pingo_; and oft jocosely tells the Fair
Ones, would they acquire Colours that would stand kissing, they must
no longer Paint but Drink for a Complexion: A Maxim that in this our
Age has been pursued with no ill Success; and has been as admirable in
its Effects, as the famous Cosmetick mentioned in the _Post-man_, and
invented by the renowned _British Hippocrates_ of the Pestle and
Mortar; making the Party, after a due Course, rosy, hale and airy; and
the best and most approved Receipt now extant for the Fever of the
Spirits. But to return to our Female Candidate, who, I understand, is
returned to herself, and will no longer hang out false Colours; as she
is the first of her Sex that has done us so great an Honour, she will
certainly, in a very short Time, both in Prose and Verse, be a Lady of
the most celebrated Deformity now living; and meet with Admirers here
as frightful as herself. But being a long-headed Gentlewoman, I am apt
to imagine she has some further Design than you have yet penetrated;
and perhaps has more mind to the SPECTATOR than any of his Fraternity,
as the Person of all the World she could like for a Paramour: And if
so, really I cannot but applaud her Choice; and should be glad, if it
might lie in my Power, to effect an amicable Accommodation betwixt two
Faces of such different Extremes, as the only possible Expedient to
mend the Breed, and rectify the Physiognomy of the Family on both
Sides. And again, as she is a Lady of very fluent Elocution, you need
not fear that your first Child will be born dumb, which otherwise you
might have some Reason to be apprehensive of. To be plain with you, I
can see nothing shocking in it; for tho she has not a Face like a
_John-Apple_, yet as a late Friend of mine, who at Sixty-five ventured
on a Lass of Fifteen, very frequently, in the remaining five Years of
his Life, gave me to understand, That, as old as he then seemed, when
they were first married he and his Spouse [could [1]] make but
Fourscore; so may Madam _Hecatissa_ very justly allege hereafter,
That, as long-visaged as she may then be thought, upon their
Wedding-day Mr. SPECTATOR and she had but Half an Ell of Face betwixt
them: And this my very worthy Predecessor, Mr. Sergeant _Chin_, always
maintained to be no more than the true oval Proportion between Man and
Wife. But as this may be a new thing to you, who have hitherto had no
Expectations from Women, I shall allow you what Time you think fit to
consider on't; not without some Hope of seeing at last your Thoughts
hereupon subjoin'd to mine, and which is an Honour much desired by,


Your assured Friend,
and most humble Servant,

Hugh [Gobling, [2]] Praeses.'

The following Letter has not much in it, but as it is written in my own
Praise I cannot for my Heart suppress it.


'You proposed, in your SPECTATOR of last _Tuesday_, Mr. _Hobbs's_
Hypothesis for solving that very odd Phaenomenon of Laughter. You have
made the Hypothesis valuable by espousing it your self; for had it
continued Mr. _Hobbs's_, no Body would have minded it. Now here this
perplexed Case arises. A certain Company laughed very heartily upon
the Reading of that very Paper of yours: And the Truth on it is, he
must be a Man of more than ordinary Constancy that could stand it out
against so much Comedy, and not do as we did. Now there are few Men in
the World so far lost to all good Sense, as to look upon you to be a
Man in a State of Folly _inferior to himself_. Pray then how do you
justify your Hypothesis of Laughter?

Thursday, the 26th of
the Month of Fools.

Your most humble,

Q. R.'


'In answer to your Letter, I must desire you to recollect yourself;
and you will find, that when you did me the Honour to be so merry over
my Paper, you laughed at the Idiot, the _German_ Courtier, the Gaper,
the Merry-Andrew, the Haberdasher, the Biter, the Butt, and not at

Your humble Servant,


[Footnote 1: could both]

[Footnote 2: Goblin]

* * * * *

No. 53. Tuesday, May 1, 1711. Steele.

... Aliquando bonus dormitat Homerus.


My Correspondents grow so numerous, that I cannot avoid frequently
inserting their Applications to me.


'I am glad I can inform you, that your Endeavours to adorn that Sex,
which is the fairest Part of the visible Creation, are well received,
and like to prove not unsuccessful. The Triumph of _Daphne_ over her
Sister _Letitia_ has been the Subject of Conversation at Several
Tea-Tables where I have been present; and I have observed the fair
Circle not a little pleased to find you considering them as reasonable
Creatures, and endeavouring to banish that _Mahometan_ Custom which
had too much prevailed even in this Island, of treating Women as if
they had no Souls. I must do them the Justice to say, that there seems
to be nothing wanting to the finishing of these lovely Pieces of Human
Nature, besides the turning and applying their Ambition properly, and
the keeping them up to a Sense of what is their true Merit.
_Epictetus_, that plain honest Philosopher, as little as he had of
Gallantry, appears to have understood them, as well as the polite St.
_Evremont_, and has hit this Point very luckily.[1] _When young
Women_, says he, _arrive at a certain Age, they hear themselves called
_Mistresses_, and are made to believe that their only Business is to
please the Men; they immediately begin to dress, and place all their
Hopes in the adorning of their Persons; it is therefore_, continues
he, _worth the while to endeavour by all means to make them sensible
that the Honour paid to them is only, upon account of their
cotiducting themselves with Virtue, Modesty, and Discretion_.

'Now to pursue the Matter yet further, and to render your Cares for
the Improvement of the Fair Ones more effectual, I would propose a new
method, like those Applications which are said to convey their virtues
by Sympathy; and that is, in order to embellish the Mistress, you
should give a new Education to the Lover, and teach the Men not to be
any longer dazzled by false Charms and unreal Beauty. I cannot but
think that if our Sex knew always how to place their Esteem justly,
the other would not be so often wanting to themselves in deserving it.
For as the being enamoured with a Woman of Sense and Virtue is an
Improvement to a Man's Understanding and Morals, and the Passion is
ennobled by the Object which inspires it; so on the other side, the
appearing amiable to a Man of a wise and elegant Mind, carries in it
self no small Degree of Merit and Accomplishment. I conclude
therefore, that one way to make the Women yet more agreeable is, to
make the Men more virtuous.

I am, SIR,

Your most humble Servant,

R. B.'

April 26.


'Yours of _Saturday_ last I read, not without some Resentment; but I
will suppose when you say you expect an Inundation of Ribbons and
Brocades, and to see many new Vanities which the Women will fall into
upon a Peace with _France_, that you intend only the unthinking Part
of our Sex: And what Methods can reduce them to Reason is hard to

But, Sir, there are others yet, that your Instructions might be of
great Use to, who, after their best Endeavours, are sometimes at a
loss to acquit themselves to a Censorious World: I am far from
thinking you can altogether disapprove of Conversation between Ladies
and Gentlemen, regulated by the Rules of Honour and Prudence; and have
thought it an Observation not ill made, that where that was wholly
denied, the Women lost their Wit, and the Men their Good-manners. 'Tis
sure, from those improper Liberties you mentioned, that a sort of
undistinguishing People shall banish from their Drawing-Rooms the
best-bred Men in the World, and condemn those that do not. Your
stating this Point might, I think, be of good use, as well as much


Your Admirer, and
most humble Servant,


_No Answer to this, till_ Anna Bella _sends a Description of those she
calls the Best-bred Men in the World_.


'I am a Gentleman who for many Years last past have been well known to
be truly Splenatick, and that my Spleen arises from having contracted
so great a Delicacy, by reading the best Authors, and keeping the most
refined Company, that I cannot bear the least Impropriety of Language,
or Rusticity of Behaviour. Now, Sir, I have ever looked upon this as a
wise Distemper; but by late Observations find that every heavy Wretch,
who has nothing to say, excuses his Dulness by complaining of the
Spleen. Nay, I saw, the other Day, two Fellows in a Tavern Kitchen set
up for it, call for a Pint and Pipes, and only by Guzling Liquor to
each other's Health, and wafting Smoke in each other's Face, pretend
to throw off the Spleen. I appeal to you, whether these Dishonours are
to be done to the Distemper of the Great and the Polite. I beseech
you, Sir, to inform these Fellows that they have not the Spleen,
because they cannot talk without the help of a Glass at their Mouths,
or convey their Meaning to each other without the Interposition of
Clouds. If you will not do this with all Speed, I assure you, for my
part, I will wholly quit the Disease, and for the future be merry with
the Vulgar.

I am, SIR,

Your humble Servant.'


'This is to let you understand, that I am a reformed Starer, and
conceived a Detestation for that Practice from what you have writ upon
the Subject. But as you have been very severe upon the Behaviour of us
Men at Divine Service, I hope you will not be so apparently partial to
the Women, as to let them go wholly unobserved. If they do everything
that is possible to attract our Eyes, are we more culpable than they
for looking at them? I happened last _Sunday_ to be shut into a Pew,
which was full of young Ladies in the Bloom of Youth and Beauty. When
the Service began, I had not Room to kneel at the Confession, but as I
stood kept my eyes from wandring as well as I was able, till one of
the young Ladies, who is a Peeper, resolved to bring down my Looks,
and fix my Devotion on her self. You are to know, Sir, that a Peeper
works with her Hands, Eyes, and Fan; one of which is continually in
Motion, while she thinks she is not actually the Admiration of some
Ogler or Starer in the Congregation. As I stood utterly at a loss how
to behave my self, surrounded as I was, this Peeper so placed her self
as to be kneeling just before me. She displayed the most beautiful
Bosom imaginable, which heaved and fell with some Fervour, while a
delicate well-shaped Arm held a Fan over her Face. It was not in
Nature to command ones Eyes from this Object; I could not avoid taking
notice also of her Fan, which had on it various Figures, very improper
to behold on that Occasion. There lay in the Body of the Piece a
_Venus_, under a Purple Canopy furled with curious Wreaths of Drapery,
half naked, attended with a Train of _Cupids_, who were busied in
Fanning her as she slept. Behind her was drawn a Satyr peeping over
the silken Fence, and threatening to break through it. I frequently
offered to turn my Sight another way, but was still detained by the
Fascination of the Peeper's Eyes, who had long practised a Skill in
them, to recal the parting Glances of her Beholders. You see my
Complaint, and hope you will take these mischievous People, the
Peepers, into your Consideration: I doubt not but you will think a
Peeper as much more pernicious than a Starer, as an Ambuscade is more
to be feared than an open Assault.

I am, SIR,

Your most Obedient Servant.'

_This Peeper using both Fan and Eyes to be considered as a _Pict_, and
proceed accordingly._

King _Latinus_ to the _Spectator_, Greeting.

'Tho' some may think we descend from our Imperial Dignity, in holding
Correspondence with a private [_Litterato_; [2]] yet as we have great
Respect to all good Intentions for our Service, we do not esteem it
beneath us to return you our Royal Thanks for what you published in
our Behalf, while under Confinement in the Inchanted Castle of the
_Savoy_, and for your Mention of a Subsidy for a Prince in Misfortune.
This your timely Zeal has inclined the Hearts of divers to be aiding
unto us, if we could propose the Means. We have taken their Good will
into Consideration, and have contrived a Method which will be easy to
those who shall give the Aid, and not unacceptable to us who receive
it. A Consort of Musick shall be prepared at _Haberdashers-Hall_ for
_Wednesday_ the Second of _May_, and we will honour the said
Entertainment with our own Presence, where each Person shall be
assessed but at two Shillings and six Pence. What we expect from you
is, that you publish these our Royal Intentions, with Injunction that
they be read at all Tea-Tables within the Cities of _London_ and
_Westminster_; and so we bid you heartily Farewell.

_Latinus_, King of the _Volscians_.'

_Given at our Court in_ Vinegar-Yard, _Story the Third from the Earth_.

April 28, 1711.


[Footnote 1: 'Epictetus his Morals, with Simplicius his Comment,' was
translated by George Stanhope in 1694. The citation above is a free
rendering of the sense of cap. 62 of the Morals.]

[Footnote 2: _Litterati_]

* * * * *

No. 54. Wednesday, May 2, 1711. Steele.

'... Sirenua nos exercet inertia.'


The following Letter being the first that I have received from the
learned University of _Cambridge_, I could not but do my self the Honour
of publishing it. It gives an Account of a new Sect of Philosophers
which has arose in that famous Residence of Learning; and is, perhaps,
the only Sect this Age is likely to produce.

Cambridge, April 26.


'Believing you to be an universal Encourager of liberal Arts and
Sciences, and glad of any Information from the learned World, I
thought an Account of a Sect of Philosophers very frequent among us,
but not taken Notice of, as far as I can remember, by any Writers
either ancient or modern, would not be unacceptable to you. The
Philosophers of this Sect are in the Language of our University called
_Lowngers_. I am of Opinion, that, as in many other things, so
likewise in this, the Ancients have been defective; _viz_. in
mentioning no Philosophers of this Sort. Some indeed will affirm that
they are a kind of Peripateticks, because we see them continually
walking about. But I would have these Gentlemen consider, that tho'
the ancient Peripateticks walked much, yet they wrote much also;
(witness, to the Sorrow of this Sect, _Aristotle_ and others): Whereas
it is notorious that most of our Professors never lay out a Farthing
either in Pen, Ink, or Paper. Others are for deriving them from
_Diogenes_, because several of the leading Men of the Sect have a
great deal of the cynical Humour in them, and delight much in
Sun-shine. But then again, _Diogenes_ was content to have his constant
Habitation in a narrow Tub; whilst our Philosophers are so far from
being of his Opinion, that it's Death to them to be confined within
the Limits of a good handsome convenient Chamber but for half an Hour.
Others there are, who from the Clearness of their Heads deduce the
Pedigree of _Lowngers_ from that great Man (I think it was either
_Plato_ or _Socrates_ [1]) who after all his Study and Learning
professed, That all he then knew was, that he knew nothing. You easily
see this is but a shallow Argument, and may be soon confuted.

I have with great Pains and Industry made my Observations from time to
time upon these Sages; and having now all Materials ready, am
compiling a Treatise, wherein I shall set forth the Rise and Progress
of this famous Sect, together with their Maxims, Austerities, Manner
of living, &c. Having prevailed with a Friend who designs shortly to
publish a new Edition of _Diogenes Laertius_, to add this Treatise of
mine by way of Supplement; I shall now, to let the World see what may
be expected from me (first begging Mr. SPECTATOR'S Leave that the
World may see it) briefly touch upon some of my chief Observations,
and then subscribe my self your humble Servant. In the first Place I
shall give you two or three of their Maxims: The fundamental one, upon
which their whole System is built, is this, viz. That Time being an
implacable Enemy to and Destroyer of all things, ought to be paid in
his own Coin, and be destroyed and murdered without Mercy by all the
Ways that can be invented. Another favourite Saying of theirs is, That
Business was designed only for Knaves, and Study for Blockheads. A
third seems to be a ludicrous one, but has a great Effect upon their
Lives; and is this, That the Devil is at Home. Now for their Manner of
Living: And here I have a large Field to expatiate in; but I shall
reserve Particulars for my intended Discourse, and now only mention
one or two of their principal Exercises. The elder Proficients employ
themselves in inspecting _mores hominum multorum_, in getting
acquainted with all the Signs and Windows in the Town. Some are
arrived at so great Knowledge, that they can tell every time any
Butcher kills a Calf, every time any old Woman's Cat is in the Straw;
and a thousand other Matters as important. One ancient Philosopher
contemplates two or three Hours every Day over a Sun-Dial; and is true
to the Dial,

... As the Dial to the Sun,
Although it be not shone upon. [2]

Our younger Students are content to carry their Speculations as yet no
farther than Bowling-greens, Billiard-Tables, and such like Places.
This may serve for a Sketch of my Design; in which I hope I shall have
your Encouragement. I am,


Yours. [3]

I must be so just as to observe I have formerly seen of this Sect at our
other University; tho' not distinguished by the Appellation which the
learned Historian, my Correspondent, reports they bear at _Cambridge_.
They were ever looked upon as a People that impaired themselves more by
their strict Application to the Rules of their Order, than any other
Students whatever. Others seldom hurt themselves any further than to
gain weak Eyes and sometimes Head-Aches; but these Philosophers are
seized all over with a general Inability, Indolence, and Weariness, and
a certain Impatience of the Place they are in, with an Heaviness in
removing to another.

The _Lowngers_ are satisfied with being merely Part of the Number of
Mankind, without distinguishing themselves from amongst them. They may
be said rather to suffer their Time to pass, than to spend it, without
Regard to the past, or Prospect of the future. All they know of Life is
only the present Instant, and do not taste even that. When one of this
Order happens to be a Man of Fortune, the Expence of his Time is
transferr'd to his Coach and Horses, and his Life is to be measured by
their Motion, not his own Enjoyments or Sufferings. The chief
Entertainment one of these Philosophers can possibly propose to himself,
is to get a Relish of Dress: This, methinks, might diversifie the Person
he is weary of (his own dear self) to himself. I have known these two
Amusements make one of these Philosophers make a tolerable Figure in the
World; with a variety of Dresses in publick Assemblies in Town, and
quick Motion of his Horses out of it, now to _Bath_, now to _Tunbridge_,
then to _Newmarket_, and then to _London_, he has in Process of Time
brought it to pass, that his Coach and his Horses have been mentioned in
all those Places. When the _Lowngers_ leave an Academick Life, and
instead of this more elegant way of appearing in the polite World,
retire to the Seats of their Ancestors, they usually join a Pack of
Dogs, and employ their Days in defending their Poultry from Foxes: I do
not know any other Method that any of this Order has ever taken to make
a Noise in the World; but I shall enquire into such about this Town as
have arrived at the Dignity of being _Lowngers_ by the Force of natural
Parts, without having ever seen an University; and send my
Correspondent, for the Embellishment of his Book, the Names and History
of those who pass their Lives without any Incidents at all; and how they
shift Coffee-houses and Chocolate-houses from Hour to Hour, to get over
the insupportable Labour of doing nothing.


[Footnote 1: Socrates in his Apology, or Defence before his Judges, as
reported by Plato. The oracle having said that there was none wiser than
he, he had sought to confute the oracle, and found the wise man of the
world foolish through belief in his own wisdom.

'When I left him I reasoned thus with myself, I am wiser than this
man, for neither of us appears to know anything great and good; but he
fancies he knows something, although he knows nothing, whereas I, as I
do not know anything, do not fancy that I do.']

[Footnote 2:

_True as Dial to the Sun,
Although it be not shired upon._

Hudibras. Part III. c. 2.]

[Footnote 3: This Letter may be by Laurence Eusden. See Note to No. 78.]

* * * * *

No. 55. Thursday May 3, 1711. Addison.

'... Intus, et in jecore aegro
Nascuntur Domini ...'


Most of the Trades, Professions, and Ways of Living among Mankind, take
their Original either from the Love of Pleasure or the Fear of Want. The
former, when it becomes too violent, degenerates into _Luxury_, and the
latter into _Avarice_. As these two Principles of Action draw different
Ways, _Persius_ has given us a very humourous Account of a young Fellow
who was rouzed out of his Bed, in order to be sent upon a long Voyage,
by _Avarice_, and afterwards over-persuaded and kept at Home by
_Luxury_. I shall set down at length the Pleadings of these two
imaginary Persons, as they are in the Original with Mr. _Dryden's_
Translation of them.

_Mane, piger, stertis: surge, inquit Avaritia; eja
Surge. Negas, Instat, surge inquit. Non queo. Surge.
Et quid agam? Rogitas? Saperdas advehe Ponto,
Castoreum, stuppas, hebenum, thus, lubrica Coa.
Tolle recens primus piper e siliente camelo.
Verte aliquid; jura. Sed Jupiter Audiet. Eheu!
Baro, regustatum digito terebrare salinum
Contentus perages, si vivere cum Jove tendis.
Jam pueris pellem succinctus et aenophorum aptas;
Ocyus ad Navem. Nil obstat quin trabe vasta
AEgaeum rapias, nisi solers Luxuria ante
Seductum moneat; quo deinde, insane ruis? Quo?
Quid tibi vis? Calido sub pectore mascula bilis
Intumuit, quam non extinxerit urna cicutae?
Tun' mare transilias? Tibi torta cannabe fulto
Coena sit in transtro? Veientanumque rubellum
Exhalet vapida laesum pice sessilis obba?
Quid petis? Ut nummi, quos hic quincunce modesto
Nutrieras, pergant avidos sudare deunces?
Indulge genio: carpamus dulcia; nostrum est
Quod vivis; cinis, et manes, et fabula fies.
Vive memor lethi: fugit hora. Hoc quod loquor, inde est.
En quid agis? Duplici in diversum scinderis hamo.
Hunccine, an hunc sequeris!----_

Whether alone, or in thy Harlot's Lap,
When thou wouldst take a lazy Morning's Nap;
Up, up, says AVARICE; thou snor'st again,
Stretchest thy Limbs, and yawn'st, but all in vain.
The rugged Tyrant no Denial takes;
At his Command th' unwilling Sluggard wakes.
What must I do? he cries; What? says his Lord:
Why rise, make ready, and go streight Aboard:
With Fish, from _Euxine_ Seas, thy Vessel freight;
Flax, Castor, _Coan_ Wines, the precious Weight
Of Pepper and _Sabean_ Incense, take
With thy own Hands, from the tir'd Camel's Back,
And with Post-haste thy running Markets make.
Be sure to turn the Penny; Lye and Swear,
'Tis wholsome Sin: But _Jove_, thou say'st, will hear.
Swear, Fool, or Starve; for the _Dilemma's_ even:
A Tradesman thou! and hope to go to Heav'n?

Resolv'd for Sea, the Slaves thy Baggage pack,
Each saddled with his Burden on his Back.
Nothing retards thy Voyage, now; but He,
That soft voluptuous Prince, call'd LUXURY;
And he may ask this civil Question; Friend,
What dost thou make a Shipboard? To what End?
Art thou of _Bethlem's_ noble College free?
Stark, staring mad, that thou wouldst tempt the Sea?
Cubb'd in a Cabbin, on a Mattress laid,
On a brown _George_, with lousy Swobbers fed;
Dead Wine, that stinks of the _Borachio_, sup
From a foul Jack, or greasy Maple Cup!
Say, wouldst thou bear all this, to raise the Store,
From Six i'th' Hundred to Six Hundred more?
Indulge, and to thy Genius freely give:
For, not to live at Ease, is not, to live:
Death stalks behind thee, and each flying Hour
Does some loose Remnant of thy Life devour.
Live, while thou liv'st; for Death will make us all,
A Name, a Nothing but an Old Wife's Tale.
Speak, wilt thou _Avarice_ or _Pleasure_ choose
To be thy Lord? Take one, and one refuse.

When a Government flourishes in Conquests, and is secure from foreign
Attacks, it naturally falls into all the Pleasures of Luxury; and as
these Pleasures are very expensive, they put those who are addicted to
them upon raising fresh Supplies of Mony, by all the Methods of
Rapaciousness and Corruption; so that Avarice and Luxury very often
become one complicated Principle of Action, in those whose Hearts are
wholly set upon Ease, Magnificence, and Pleasure. The most Elegant and
Correct of all the _Latin_ Historians observes, that in his time, when
the most formidable States of the World were subdued by the _Romans_,
the Republick sunk into those two Vices of a quite different Nature,
Luxury and Avarice: [1] And accordingly describes _Catiline_ as one who
coveted the Wealth of other Men, at the same time that he squander'd
away his own. This Observation on the Commonwealth, when it was in its
height of Power and Riches, holds good of all Governments that are
settled in a State of Ease and Prosperity. At such times Men naturally
endeavour to outshine one another in Pomp and Splendor, and having no
Fears to alarm them from abroad, indulge themselves in the Enjoyment of
all the Pleasures they can get into their Possession; which naturally
produces Avarice, and an immoderate Pursuit after Wealth and Riches.

As I was humouring my self in the Speculation of these two great
Principles of Action, I could not forbear throwing my Thoughts into a
little kind of Allegory or Fable, with which I shall here present my

There were two very powerful Tyrants engaged in a perpetual War against
each other: The Name of the first was _Luxury_, and of the second
_Avarice_. The Aim of each of them was no less than Universal Monarchy
over the Hearts of Mankind. _Luxury_ had many Generals under him, who
did him great Service, as _Pleasure_, _Mirth_, _Pomp_ and _Fashion_.
_Avarice_ was likewise very strong in his Officers, being faithfully
served by _Hunger_, _Industry_, _Care_ and _Watchfulness_: He had
likewise a Privy-Counsellor who was always at his Elbow, and whispering
something or other in his Ear: The Name of this Privy-Counsellor was
_Poverty_. As _Avarice_ conducted himself by the Counsels of _Poverty_,
his Antagonist was entirely guided by the Dictates and Advice of
_Plenty_, who was his first Counsellor and Minister of State, that
concerted all his Measures for him, and never departed out of his Sight.
While these two great Rivals were thus contending for Empire, their
Conquests were very various. _Luxury_ got Possession of one Heart, and
_Avarice_ of another. The Father of a Family would often range himself
under the Banners of _Avarice_, and the Son under those of _Luxury_. The
Wife and Husband would often declare themselves on the two different
Parties; nay, the same Person would very often side with one in his
Youth, and revolt to the other in his old Age. Indeed the Wise Men of
the World stood _Neuter_; but alas! their Numbers were not considerable.
At length, when these two Potentates had wearied themselves with waging
War upon one another, they agreed upon an Interview, at which neither of
their Counsellors were to be present. It is said that _Luxury_ began the
Parley, and after having represented the endless State of War in which
they were engaged, told his Enemy, with a Frankness of Heart which is
natural to him, that he believed they two should be very good Friends,
were it not for the Instigations of _Poverty_, that pernicious
Counsellor, who made an ill use of his Ear, and filled him with
groundless Apprehensions and Prejudices. To this _Avarice_ replied, that
he looked upon _Plenty_ (the first Minister of his Antagonist) to be a
much more destructive Counsellor than _Poverty_, for that he was
perpetually suggesting Pleasures, banishing all the necessary Cautions
against Want, and consequently undermining those Principles on which the
Government of _Avarice_ was founded. At last, in order to an
Accommodation, they agreed upon this Preliminary; That each of them
should immediately dismiss his Privy-Counsellor. When things were thus
far adjusted towards a Peace, all other differences were soon
accommodated, insomuch that for the future they resolved to live as good
Friends and Confederates, and to share between them whatever Conquests
were made on either side. For this Reason, we now find _Luxury_ and
_Avarice_ taking Possession of the same Heart, and dividing the same
Person between them. To which I shall only add, that since the
discarding of the Counsellors above-mentioned, _Avarice_ supplies
_Luxury_ in the room of _Plenty_, as _Luxury_ prompts _Avarice_ in the
place of _Poverty_.


[Footnote 1:

Alieni appetens, sui profusus.


* * * * *

No. 56. Friday, May 4, 1711. Addison.

'Felices errore suo ...'


The _Americans_ believe that all Creatures have Souls, not only Men and
Women, but Brutes, Vegetables, nay even the most inanimate things, as
Stocks and Stones. They believe the same of all the Works of Art, as of
Knives, Boats, Looking-glasses: And that as any of these things perish,
their Souls go into another World, which is inhabited by the Ghosts of
Men and Women. For this Reason they always place by the Corpse of their
dead Friend a Bow and Arrows, that he may make use of the Souls of them
in the other World, as he did of their wooden Bodies in this. How absurd
soever such an Opinion as this may appear, our _European_ Philosophers
have maintained several Notions altogether as improbable. Some of
_Plato's_ followers in particular, when they talk of the World of Ideas,
entertain us with Substances and Beings no less extravagant and
chimerical. Many _Aristotelians_ have likewise spoken as unintelligibly
of their substantial Forms. I shall only instance _Albertus Magnus_, who
in his Dissertation upon the Loadstone observing that Fire will destroy
its magnetick Vertues, tells us that he took particular Notice of one as
it lay glowing amidst an Heap of burning Coals, and that he perceived a
certain blue Vapour to arise from it, which he believed might be the
_substantial Form_, that is, in our _West-Indian_ Phrase, the _Soul_ of
the Loadstone. [1]

There is a Tradition among the _Americans_, that one of their Countrymen
descended in a Vision to the great Repository of Souls, or, as we call
it here, to the other World; and that upon his Return he gave his
Friends a distinct Account of every thing he saw among those Regions of
the Dead. A Friend of mine, whom I have formerly mentioned, prevailed
upon one of the Interpreters of the _Indian_ Kings, [2] to inquire of
them, if possible, what Tradition they have among them of this Matter:
Which, as well as he could learn by those many Questions which he asked
them at several times, was in Substance as follows.

The Visionary, whose Name was _Marraton_, after having travelled for a
long Space under an hollow Mountain, arrived at length on the Confines
of this World of Spirits; but could not enter it by reason of a thick
Forest made up of Bushes, Brambles and pointed Thorns, so perplexed and
interwoven with one another, that it was impossible to find a Passage
through it. Whilst he was looking about for some Track or Path-way that
might be worn in any Part of it, he saw an huge Lion crouched under the
Side of it, who kept his Eye upon him in the same Posture as when he
watches for his Prey. The _Indian_ immediately started back, whilst the
Lion rose with a Spring, and leaped towards him. Being wholly destitute
of all other Weapons, he stooped down to take up an huge Stone in his
Hand; but to his infinite Surprize grasped nothing, and found the
supposed Stone to be only the Apparition of one. If he was disappointed
on this Side, he was as much pleased on the other, when he found the
Lion, which had seized on his left Shoulder, had no Power to hurt him,
and was only the Ghost of that ravenous Creature which it appeared to
be. He no sooner got rid of his impotent Enemy, but he marched up to the
Wood, and after having surveyed it for some Time, endeavoured to press
into one Part of it that was a little thinner than the rest; when again,
to his great Surprize, he found the Bushes made no Resistance, but that
he walked through Briars and Brambles with the same Ease as through the
open Air; and, in short, that the whole Wood was nothing else but a Wood
of Shades. He immediately concluded, that this huge Thicket of Thorns
and Brakes was designed as a kind of Fence or quick-set Hedge to the
Ghosts it inclosed; and that probably their soft Substances might be
torn by these subtle Points and Prickles, which were too weak to make
any Impressions in Flesh and Blood. With this Thought he resolved to
travel through this intricate Wood; when by Degrees he felt a Gale of
Perfumes breathing upon him, that grew stronger and sweeter in
Proportion as he advanced. He had not proceeded much further when he
observed the Thorns and Briars to end, and give place to a thousand
beautiful green Trees covered with Blossoms of the finest Scents and
Colours, that formed a Wilderness of Sweets, and were a kind of Lining
to those ragged Scenes which he had before passed through. As he was
coming out of this delightful Part of the Wood, and entering upon the
Plains it inclosed, he saw several Horsemen rushing by him, and a little
while after heard the Cry of a Pack of Dogs. He had not listned long
before he saw the Apparition of a milk-white Steed, with a young Man on
the Back of it, advancing upon full Stretch after the Souls of about an
hundred Beagles that were hunting down the Ghost of an Hare, which ran
away before them with an unspeakable Swiftness. As the Man on the
milk-white Steed came by him, he looked upon him very attentively, and
found him to be the young Prince _Nicharagua_, who died about Half a
Year before, and, by reason of his great Vertues, was at that time
lamented over all the Western Parts of _America_.

He had no sooner got out of the Wood, but he was entertained with such a
Landskip of flowry Plains, green Meadows, running Streams, sunny Hills,
and shady Vales, as were not to be [represented [3]] by his own
Expressions, nor, as he said, by the Conceptions of others. This happy
Region was peopled with innumerable Swarms of Spirits, who applied
themselves to Exercises and Diversions according as their Fancies led
them. Some of them were tossing the Figure of a Colt; others were
pitching the Shadow of a Bar; others were breaking the Apparition of [a
[4]] Horse; and Multitudes employing themselves upon ingenious
Handicrafts with the Souls of _departed Utensils_; for that is the Name
which in the _Indian_ Language they give their Tools when they are burnt
or broken. As he travelled through this delightful Scene, he was very
often tempted to pluck the Flowers that rose every where about him in
the greatest Variety and Profusion, having never seen several of them in
his own Country: But he quickly found that though they were Objects of
his Sight, they were not liable to his Touch. He at length came to the
Side of a great River, and being a good Fisherman himself stood upon the
Banks of it some time to look upon an Angler that had taken a great many
Shapes of Fishes, which lay flouncing up and down by him.

I should have told my Reader, that this _Indian_ had been formerly
married to one of the greatest Beauties of his Country, by whom he had
several Children. This Couple were so famous for their Love and
Constancy to one another, that the _Indians_ to this Day, when they give
a married Man Joy of his Wife, wish that they may live together like
_Marraton_ and _Yaratilda_. _Marraton_ had not stood long by the
Fisherman when he saw the Shadow of his beloved _Yaratilda_, who had for
some time fixed her Eye upon him, before he discovered her. Her Arms
were stretched out towards him, Floods of Tears ran down her Eyes; her
Looks, her Hands, her Voice called him over to her; and at the same time
seemed to tell him that the River was impassable. Who can describe the
Passion made up of Joy, Sorrow, Love, Desire, Astonishment, that rose in
the Indian upon the Sight of his dear _Yaratilda_? He could express it
by nothing but his Tears, which ran like a River down his Cheeks as he
looked upon her. He had not stood in this Posture long, before he
plunged into the Stream that lay before him; and finding it to be
nothing but the Phantom of a River, walked on the Bottom of it till he
arose on the other Side. At his Approach _Yaratilda_ flew into his Arms,
whilst _Marraton_ wished himself disencumbered of that Body which kept
her from his Embraces. After many Questions and Endearments on both
Sides, she conducted him to a Bower which she had dressed with her own
Hands with all the Ornaments that could be met with in those blooming
Regions. She had made it gay beyond Imagination, and was every day
adding something new to it. As _Marraton_ stood astonished at the
unspeakable Beauty of her Habitation, and ravished with the Fragrancy
that came from every Part of it, _Yaratilda_ told him that she was
preparing this Bower for his Reception, as well knowing that his Piety
to his God, and his faithful Dealing towards Men, would certainly bring
him to that happy Place whenever his Life should be at an End. She then
brought two of her Children to him, who died some Years before, and
resided with her in the same delightful Bower, advising him to breed up
those others which were still with him in such a Manner, that they might
hereafter all of them meet together in this happy Place.

The Tradition tells us further, that he had afterwards a Sight of those
dismal Habitations which are the Portion of ill Men after Death; and
mentions several Molten Seas of Gold, in which were plunged the Souls of
barbarous _Europeans_, [who [5]] put to the Sword so many Thousands of
poor _Indians_ for the sake of that precious Metal: But having already
touched upon the chief Points of this Tradition, and exceeded the
Measure of my Paper, I shall not give any further Account of it.


[Footnote 1: Albertus Magnus, a learned Dominican who resigned, for love
of study, his bishopric of Ratisbon, died at Cologne in 1280. In alchemy
a distinction was made between stone and spirit, as between body and
soul, substance and accident. The evaporable parts were called, in
alchemy, spirit and soul and accident.]

[Footnote 2: See No. 50.]

[Footnote 3: described]

[Footnote 4: an]

[Footnote 5: that]

* * * * *

No. 57. Saturday, May 5, 1711. Addison.

'Quem praestare potest mulier galeata pudorem,
Quae fugit a Sexu!'


When the Wife of _Hector_, in _Homer's Iliads_, discourses with her
Husband about the Battel in which he was going to engage, the Hero,
desiring her to leave that Matter to his Care, bids her go to her Maids
and mind her Spinning: [1] by which the Poet intimates, that Men and
Women ought to busy themselves in their proper Spheres, and on such
Matters only as are suitable to their respective Sex.

I am at this time acquainted with a young Gentleman, who has passed a
great Part of his Life in the Nursery, and, upon Occasion, can make a
Caudle or a Sack-Posset better than any Man in _England_. He is likewise
a wonderful Critick in Cambrick and Muslins, and will talk an Hour
together upon a Sweet-meat. He entertains his Mother every Night with
Observations that he makes both in Town and Court: As what Lady shews
the nicest Fancy in her Dress; what Man of Quality wears the fairest
Whig; who has the finest Linnen, who the prettiest Snuff-box, with many
other the like curious Remarks that may be made in good Company.

On the other hand I have very frequently the Opportunity of seeing a
Rural _Andromache_, who came up to Town last Winter, and is one of the
greatest Fox-hunters in the Country. She talks of Hounds and Horses, and
makes nothing of leaping over a Six-bar Gate. If a Man tells her a
waggish Story, she gives him a Push with her Hand in jest, and calls him
an impudent Dog; and if her Servant neglects his Business, threatens to
kick him out of the House. I have heard her, in her Wrath, call a
Substantial Trades-man a Lousy Cur; and remember one Day, when she could
not think of the Name of a Person, she described him in a large Company
of Men and Ladies, by the Fellow with the Broad Shoulders.

If those Speeches and Actions, which in their own Nature are
indifferent, appear ridiculous when they proceed from a wrong Sex, the
Faults and Imperfections of one Sex transplanted into another, appear
black and monstrous. As for the Men, I shall not in this Paper any
further concern my self about them: but as I would fain contribute to
make Womankind, which is the most beautiful Part of the Creation,
entirely amiable, and wear out all those little Spots and Blemishes that
are apt to rise among the Charms which Nature has poured out upon them,
I shall dedicate this Paper to their Service. The Spot which I would
here endeavour to clear them of, is that Party-Rage which of late Years
is very much crept into their Conversation. This is, in its Nature, a
Male Vice, and made up of many angry and cruel Passions that are
altogether repugnant to the Softness, the Modesty, and those other
endearing Qualities which are natural to the Fair Sex. Women were formed
to temper Mankind, and sooth them into Tenderness and Compassion, not to
set an Edge upon their Minds, and blow up in them those Passions which
are too apt to rise of their own Accord. When I have seen a pretty Mouth
uttering Calumnies and Invectives, what would not I have given to have
stopt it? How have I been troubled to see some of the finest Features in
the World grow pale, and tremble with Party-Rage? _Camilla_ is one of
the greatest Beauties in the _British_ Nation, and yet values her self
more upon being the _Virago_ of one Party, than upon being the Toast of
both. The Dear Creature, about a Week ago, encountered the fierce and
beautiful _Penthesilea_ across a Tea-Table; but in the Height of her
Anger, as her Hand chanced to shake with the Earnestness of the Dispute,
she scalded her Fingers, and spilt a Dish of Tea upon her Petticoat. Had
not this Accident broke off the Debate, no Body knows where it would
have ended.

There is one Consideration which I would earnestly recommend to all my
Female Readers, and which, I hope, will have some weight with them. In
short, it is this, that there is nothing so bad for the Face as
Party-Zeal. It gives an ill-natured Cast to the Eye, and a disagreeable
Sourness to the Look; besides, that it makes the Lines too strong, and
flushes them worse than Brandy. I have seen a Woman's Face break out in
Heats, as she has been talking against a great Lord, whom she had never
seen in her Life; and indeed never knew a Party-Woman that kept her
Beauty for a Twelvemonth. I would therefore advise all my Female
Readers, as they value their Complexions, to let alone all Disputes of
this Nature; though, at the same time, I would give free Liberty to all
superannuated motherly Partizans to be as violent as they please, since
there will be no Danger either of their spoiling their Faces, or of
their gaining Converts.

[2] For my own part, I think a Man makes an odious and despicable
Figure, that is violent in a Party: but a Woman is too sincere to
mitigate the Fury of her Principles with Temper and Discretion, and to
act with that Caution and Reservedness which are requisite in our Sex.
When this unnatural Zeal gets into them, it throws them into ten
thousand Heats and Extravagancies; their generous [Souls [3]] set no
Bounds to their Love or to their Hatred; and whether a Whig or Tory, a
Lap-Dog or a Gallant, an Opera or a Puppet-Show, be the Object of it,
the Passion, while it reigns, engrosses the whole Woman.

I remember when Dr. _Titus Oates_ [4] was in all his Glory, I
accompanied my Friend WILL. [HONEYCOMB] [5] in a Visit to a Lady of his
Acquaintance: We were no sooner sat down, but upon casting my Eyes about
the Room, I found in almost every Corner of it a Print that represented
the Doctor in all Magnitudes and Dimensions. A little after, as the Lady
was discoursing my Friend, and held her Snuff-box in her Hand, who
should I see in the Lid of it but the Doctor. It was not long after
this, when she had Occasion for her Handkerchief, which upon the first
opening discovered among the Plaits of it the Figure of the Doctor. Upon
this my Friend WILL., who loves Raillery, told her, That if he was in
Mr. _Truelove's_ Place (for that was the Name for her Husband) she
should be made as uneasy by a Handkerchief as ever _Othello_ was. _I am
afraid,_ said she, _Mr._ [HONEYCOMB,[6]] _you are a Tory; tell me truly,
are you a Friend to the Doctor or not?_ WILL., instead of making her a
Reply, smiled in her Face (for indeed she was very pretty) and told her
that one of her Patches was dropping off. She immediately adjusted it,
and looking a little seriously, _Well_, says she, _I'll be hang'd if you
and your silent Friend there are not against the Doctor in your Hearts,
I suspected as much by his saying nothing_. Upon this she took her Fan
into her Hand, and upon the opening of it again displayed to us the
Figure of the Doctor, who was placed with great Gravity among the Sticks
of it. In a word, I found that the Doctor had taken Possession of her
Thoughts, her Discourse, and most of her Furniture; but finding my self
pressed too close by her Question, I winked upon my Friend to take his
Leave, which he did accordingly.


[Footnote 1: Hector's parting from Andromache, at the close of Book VI.

No more--but hasten to thy tasks at home,
There guide the spindle, and direct the loom;
Me glory summons to the martial scene,
The field of combat is the sphere for men.]

[Footnote 2: Not a new paragraph in the first issue.]

[Footnote 3: "Souls (I mean those of ordinary Women)." This, however,
was cancelled by an Erratum in the next number.]

[Footnote 4: Addison was six years old when Titus Oates began his
'Popish Plot' disclosures. Under a name which called up recollections of
the vilest trading upon theological intolerance, he here glances at Dr.
Henry Sacheverell, whose trial (Feb. 27-March 20, 1710) for his sermons
in praise of the divine right of kings and contempt of the Whigs, and
his sentence of suspension for three years, had caused him to be admired
enthusiastically by all party politicians who were of his own way of
thinking. The change of person pleasantly puts 'Tory' for 'Whig,' and
avoids party heat by implying a suggestion that excesses are not all on
one side. Sacheverell had been a College friend of Addison's. He is the
'dearest Harry' for whom, at the age of 22, Addison wrote his metrical
'Account of the greatest English Poets' which omitted Shakespeare from
the list.]

[Footnotes 5: Honycombe]

* * * * *

No. 58. Monday, May 7, 1711. Addison.

Ut pictura poesis erit ...


Nothing is so much admired, and so little understood, as Wit. No Author
that I know of has written professedly upon it; and as for those who
make any Mention of it, they only treat on the Subject as it has
accidentally fallen in their Way, and that too in little short
Reflections, or in general declamatory Flourishes, without entering into
the Bottom of the Matter. I hope therefore I shall perform an acceptable
Work to my Countrymen, if I treat at large upon this Subject; which I
shall endeavour to do in a Manner suitable to it, that I may not incur
the Censure which a famous Critick bestows upon one who had written a
Treatise upon _the Sublime_ in a low groveling Stile. I intend to lay
aside a whole Week for this Undertaking, that the Scheme of my Thoughts
may not be broken and interrupted; and I dare promise my self, if my
Readers will give me a Week's Attention, that this great City will be
very much changed for the better by next _Saturday_ Night. I shall
endeavour to make what I say intelligible to ordinary Capacities; but if
my Readers meet with any Paper that in some Parts of it may be a little
out of their Reach, I would not have them discouraged, for they may
assure themselves the next shall be much clearer.

As the great and only End of these my Speculations is to banish Vice and
Ignorance out of the Territories of _Great-Britain_, I shall endeavour
as much as possible to establish among us a Taste of polite Writing. It
is with this View that I have endeavoured to set my Readers right in
several Points relating to Operas and Tragedies; and shall from time to
time impart my Notions of Comedy, as I think they may tend to its
Refinement and Perfection. I find by my Bookseller that these Papers of
Criticism, with that upon Humour, have met with a more kind Reception
than indeed I could have hoped for from such Subjects; for which Reason
I shall enter upon my present Undertaking with greater Chearfulness.

In this, and one or two following Papers, I shall trace out the History
of false Wit, and distinguish the several Kinds of it as they have
prevailed in different Ages of the World. This I think the more
necessary at present, because I observed there were Attempts on foot
last Winter to revive some of those antiquated Modes of Wit that have
been long exploded out of the Commonwealth of Letters. There were
several Satyrs and Panegyricks handed about in Acrostick, by which Means
some of the most arrant undisputed Blockheads about the Town began to
entertain ambitious Thoughts, and to set up for polite Authors. I shall
therefore describe at length those many Arts of false Wit, in which a
Writer does not show himself a Man of a beautiful Genius, but of great

The first Species of false Wit which I have met with is very venerable
for its Antiquity, and has produced several Pieces which have lived very
near as long as the _Iliad_ it self: I mean those short Poems printed
among the minor _Greek_ Poets, which resemble the Figure of an Egg, a
Pair of Wings, an Ax, a Shepherd's Pipe, and an Altar.

[1] As for the first, it is a little oval Poem, and may not improperly
be called a Scholar's Egg. I would endeavour to hatch it, or, in more
intelligible Language, to translate it into _English_, did not I find
the Interpretation of it very difficult; for the Author seems to have
been more intent upon the Figure of his Poem, than upon the Sense of it.

The Pair of Wings consist of twelve Verses, or rather Feathers, every
Verse decreasing gradually in its Measure according to its Situation in
the Wing. The subject of it (as in the rest of the Poems which follow)
bears some remote Affinity with the Figure, for it describes a God of
Love, who is always painted with Wings.

The Ax methinks would have been a good Figure for a Lampoon, had the
Edge of it consisted of the most satyrical Parts of the Work; but as it
is in the Original, I take it to have been nothing else but the Posy of
an Ax which was consecrated to _Minerva_, and was thought to have been
the same that _Epeus_ made use of in the building of the _Trojan_ Horse;
which is a Hint I shall leave to the Consideration of the Criticks. I am
apt to think that the Posy was written originally upon the Ax, like
those which our modern Cutlers inscribe upon their Knives; and that
therefore the Posy still remains in its ancient Shape, tho' the Ax it
self is lost.

The Shepherd's Pipe may be said to be full of Musick, for it is composed
of nine different Kinds of Verses, which by their several Lengths
resemble the nine Stops of the old musical Instrument, [that [2]] is
likewise the Subject of the Poem. [3]

The Altar is inscribed with the Epitaph of _Troilus_ the Son of
_Hecuba_; which, by the way, makes me believe, that these false Pieces
of Wit are much more ancient than the Authors to whom they are generally
ascribed; at least I will never be perswaded, that so fine a Writer as
_Theocritus_ could have been the Author of any such simple Works.

It was impossible for a Man to succeed in these Performances who was not
a kind of Painter, or at least a Designer: He was first of all to draw
the Out-line of the Subject which he intended to write upon, and
afterwards conform the Description to the Figure of his Subject. The
Poetry was to contract or dilate itself according to the Mould in which
it was cast. In a word, the Verses were to be cramped or extended to the
Dimensions of the Frame that was prepared for them; and to undergo the
Fate of those Persons whom the Tyrant _Procrustes_ used to lodge in his
Iron Bed; if they were too short, he stretched them on a Rack, and if
they were too long, chopped off a Part of their Legs, till they fitted
the Couch which he had prepared for them.

Mr. _Dryden_ hints at this obsolete kind of Wit in one of the following
Verses, [in his _Mac Flecno_;] which an _English_ Reader cannot
understand, who does not know that there are those little Poems
abovementioned in the Shape of Wings and Altars.

... _Chuse for thy Command
Some peaceful Province in Acrostick Land;
There may'st thou Wings display, and_ Altars _raise,
And torture one poor Word a thousand Ways._

This Fashion of false Wit was revived by several Poets of the last Age,
and in particular may be met with among _Mr. Herbert's_ Poems; and, if I
am not mistaken, in the Translation of _Du Bartas_. [4]--I do not
remember any other kind of Work among the Moderns which more resembles
the Performances I have mentioned, than that famous Picture of King
_Charles_ the First, which has the whole Book of _Psalms_ written in the
Lines of the Face and the Hair of the Head. When I was last at _Oxford_
I perused one of the Whiskers; and was reading the other, but could not
go so far in it as I would have done, by reason of the Impatience of my
Friends and Fellow-Travellers, who all of them pressed to see such a
Piece of Curiosity. I have since heard, that there is now an eminent
Writing-Master in Town, who has transcribed all the _Old Testament_ in a
full-bottomed Periwig; and if the Fashion should introduce the thick
kind of Wigs which were in Vogue some few Years ago, he promises to add
two or three supernumerary Locks that shall contain all the _Apocrypha_.
He designed this Wig originally for King _William_, having disposed of
the two Books of _Kings_ in the two Forks of the Foretop; but that
glorious Monarch dying before the Wig was finished, there is a Space
left in it for the Face of any one that has a mind to purchase it.

But to return to our ancient Poems in Picture, I would humbly propose,
for the Benefit of our modern Smatterers in Poetry, that they would
imitate their Brethren among the Ancients in those ingenious Devices. I
have communicated this Thought to a young Poetical Lover of my
Acquaintance, who intends to present his Mistress with a Copy of Verses
made in the Shape of her Fan; and, if he tells me true, has already
finished the three first Sticks of it. He has likewise promised me to
get the Measure of his Mistress's Marriage-Finger, with a Design to make
a Posy in the Fashion of a Ring, which shall exactly fit it. It is so
very easy to enlarge upon a good Hint, that I do not question but my
ingenious Readers will apply what I have said to many other Particulars;
and that we shall see the Town filled in a very little time with
Poetical Tippets, Handkerchiefs, Snuff-Boxes, and the like Female
Ornaments. I shall therefore conclude with a Word of Advice to those
admirable _English_ Authors who call themselves Pindarick Writers, [5]
that they would apply themselves to this kind of Wit without Loss of
Time, as being provided better than any other Poets with Verses of all
Sizes and Dimensions.


[Footnote 1: Not a new paragraph in the first issue.]

[Footnote 2: which]

[Footnote 3: The 'Syrinx' of Theocritus consists of twenty verses, so
arranged that the length of each pair is less than that of the pair
before, and the whole resembles the ten reeds of the mouth organ or Pan
pipes ([Greek: syrigx]). The Egg is, by tradition, called Anacreon's.
Simmias of Rhodes, who lived about B.C. 324, is said to have been the
inventor of shaped verses. Butler in his 'Character of a Small Poet'
said of Edward Benlowes:

'As for Altars and Pyramids in poetry, he has outdone all men that
way; for he has made a gridiron and a frying-pan in verse, that
besides the likeness in shape, the very tone and sound of the words
did perfectly represent the noise that is made by those utensils.']

[Footnote 4: But a devout earnestness gave elevation to George Herbert's
ingenious conceits. Joshua Sylvester's dedication to King James the
First of his translation of the Divine Weeks and Works of Du Bartas has
not this divine soul in its oddly-fashioned frame. It begins with a
sonnet on the Royal Anagram 'James Stuart: A just Master;' celebrates
his Majesty in French and Italian, and then fills six pages with verse
built in his Majesty's honour, in the form of bases and capitals of
columns, inscribed each with the name of one of the Muses. Puttenham's
Art of Poetry, published in 1589, book II., ch. ii. contains the fullest
account of the mysteries and varieties of this sort of versification.]

[Footnote 5: When the tyranny of French criticism had imprisoned nearly
all our poetry in the heroic couplet, outside exercise was allowed only
to those who undertook to serve under Pindar.]

* * * * *

No. 59. Tuesday, May 8, 1711. Addison.

'Operose Nihil agunt.'


There is nothing more certain than that every Man would be a Wit if he
could, and notwithstanding Pedants of a pretended Depth and Solidity are
apt to decry the Writings of a polite Author, as _Flash_ and _Froth_,
they all of them shew upon Occasion that they would spare no pains to
arrive at the Character of those whom they seem to despise. For this
Reason we often find them endeavouring at Works of Fancy, which cost
them infinite Pangs in the Production. The Truth of it is, a Man had
better be a Gally-Slave than a Wit, were one to gain that Title by those
Elaborate Trifles which have been the Inventions of such Authors as were
often Masters of great Learning but no Genius.

In my last Paper I mentioned some of these false Wits among the
Ancients, and in this shall give the Reader two or three other Species
of them, that flourished in the same early Ages of the World. The first
I shall produce are the _Lipogrammiatists_ [1] or _Letter-droppers_ of
Antiquity, that would take an Exception, without any Reason, against
some particular Letter in the Alphabet, so as not to admit it once into
a whole Poem. One _Tryphiodorus_ was a great Master in this kind of
Writing. He composed an _Odyssey_ or Epick Poem on the Adventures of
_Ulysses_, consisting of four and twenty Books, having entirely banished
the Letter _A_ from his first Book, which was called _Alpha_ (as _Lucus
a non Lucendo_) because there was not an _Alpha_ in it. His second Book
was inscribed _Beta_ for the same Reason. In short, the Poet excluded
the whole four and twenty Letters in their Turns, and shewed them, one
after another, that he could do his Business without them.

It must have been very pleasant to have seen this Poet avoiding the
reprobate Letter, as much as another would a false Quantity, and making
his Escape from it through the several _Greek_ Dialects, when he was
pressed with it in any particular Syllable. For the most apt and elegant
Word in the whole Language was rejected, like a Diamond with a Flaw in
it, if it appeared blemished with a wrong Letter. I shall only observe
upon this Head, that if the Work I have here mentioned had been now
extant, the _Odyssey_ of _Tryphiodorus_, in all probability, would have
been oftner quoted by our learned Pedants, than the _Odyssey_ of
_Homer_. What a perpetual Fund would it have been of obsolete Words and
Phrases, unusual Barbarisms and Rusticities, absurd Spellings and
complicated Dialects? I make no question but it would have been looked
upon as one of the most valuable Treasuries of the _Greek_ Tongue.

I find likewise among the Ancients that ingenious kind of Conceit, which
the Moderns distinguish by the Name of a _Rebus_, [2] that does not sink
a Letter but a whole Word, by substituting a Picture in its Place. When
_Caesar_ was one of the Masters of the _Roman_ Mint, he placed the
Figure of an Elephant upon the Reverse of the Publick Mony; the Word
_Caesar_ signifying an Elephant in the _Punick_ Language. This was
artificially contrived by _Caesar_, because it was not lawful for a
private Man to stamp his own Figure upon the Coin of the Commonwealth.
_Cicero_, who was so called from the Founder of his Family, that was
marked on the Nose with a little Wen like a Vetch (which is _Cicer_ in
_Latin_) instead of _Marcus Tullius Cicero_, order'd the Words _Marcus
Tullius_ with the Figure of a Vetch at the End of them to be inscribed
on a publick Monument. [3] This was done probably to shew that he was
neither ashamed of his Name or Family, notwithstanding the Envy of his
Competitors had often reproached him with both. In the same manner we
read of a famous Building that was marked in several Parts of it with
the Figures of a Frog and a Lizard: Those Words in _Greek_ having been
the Names of the Architects, who by the Laws of their Country were never
permitted to inscribe their own Names upon their Works. For the same
Reason it is thought, that the Forelock of the Horse in the Antique
Equestrian Statue of _Marcus Aurelius_, represents at a Distance the
Shape of an Owl, to intimate the Country of the Statuary, who, in all
probability, was an _Athenian_. This kind of Wit was very much in Vogue
among our own Countrymen about an Age or two ago, who did not practise
it for any oblique Reason, as the Ancients abovementioned, but purely
for the sake of being Witty. Among innumerable Instances that may be
given of this Nature, I shall produce the Device of one Mr _Newberry_,
as I find it mentioned by our learned _Cambden_ in his Remains. Mr
_Newberry_, to represent his Name by a Picture, hung up at his Door the
Sign of a Yew-Tree, that had several Berries upon it, and in the midst
of them a great golden _N_ hung upon a Bough of the Tree, which by the
Help of a little false Spelling made up the Word _N-ew-berry_.

I shall conclude this Topick with a _Rebus_, which has been lately hewn
out in Free-stone, and erected over two of the Portals of _Blenheim_
House, being the Figure of a monstrous Lion tearing to Pieces a little
Cock. For the better understanding of which Device, I must acquaint my
_English_ Reader that a Cock has the Misfortune to be called in _Latin_
by the same Word that signifies a _Frenchman_, as a Lion is the Emblem
of the _English_ Nation. Such a Device in so noble a Pile of Building
looks like a Punn in an Heroick Poem; and I am very sorry the truly
ingenious Architect would suffer the Statuary to blemish his excellent
Plan with so poor a Conceit: But I hope what I have said will gain
Quarter for the Cock, and deliver him out of the Lion's Paw.

I find likewise in ancient Times the Conceit of making an Eccho talk
sensibly, and give rational Answers. If this could be excusable in any
Writer, it would be in _Ovid_, where he introduces the Eccho as a Nymph,
before she was worn away into nothing but a Voice. The learned
_Erasmus_, tho' a Man of Wit and Genius, has composed a Dialogue [4]
upon this silly kind of Device, and made use of an Eccho who seems to
have been a very extraordinary Linguist, for she answers the Person she
talks with in _Latin, Greek_, and _Hebrew_, according as she found the
Syllables which she was to repeat in any one of those learned Languages.
_Hudibras_, in Ridicule of this false kind of Wit, has described _Bruin_
bewailing the Loss of his Bear to a solitary Eccho, who is of great used
to the Poet in several Disticks, as she does not only repeat after him,
but helps out his Verse, and furnishes him with _Rhymes_.

_He rag'd, and kept as heavy a Coil as
Stout Hercules for loss of_ Hylas;
_Forcing the Valleys to repeat
The Accents of his sad Regret;
He beat his Breast, and tore his Hair,
For Loss of his dear Crony Bear,
That Eccho from the hollow Ground
His Doleful Wailings did resound
More wistfully, bu many times,
Then in small Poets Splay-foot Rhymes,
That make her, in her rueful Stories
To answer to Introgatories,
And most unconscionably depose
Things of which She nothing knows:
And when she has said all she can say,
'Tis wrested to the Lover's Fancy.
Quoth he, O whither, wicked_ Bruin,
_Art thou fled to my-----Eccho_, Ruin?
_I thought th' hadst scorn'd to budge a Step
for Fear. (Quoth Eccho)_ Marry guep.
_Am not I here to take thy Part!
Then what has quell'd thy stubborn Heart?
Have these Bones rattled, and this Head
So often in thy Quarrel bled?
Nor did I ever winch or grudge it,
For thy dear Sake. (Quoth she)_ Mum budget.
_Think'st thou 'twill not be laid i' th' Dish.
Thou turn'dst thy Back? Quoth Eccho_, Pish.
To run from those th' hadst overcome
Thus cowardly? Quoth Eccho_, Mum.
_But what a-vengeance makes thee fly
From me too, as thine Enemy?
Or if thou hadst not Thought of me,
Nor what I have endur'd for Thee,
Yet Shame and Honour might prevail
To keep thee thus for turning tail;
For who will grudge to spend his Blood in
His Honour's Cause? Quoth she_, A Pudding.

[Footnote 1: From [Greek: leip_o], I omit, [Greek: gramma], a letter. In
modern literature there is a Pugna Porcorum (pig-fight) of which every
word begins with a p, and there are Spanish odes from which all vowels
but one are omitted. The earliest writer of Lipogrammatic verse is said
to have been the Greek poet Lasus, born in Achaia 538 B.C. Lope de Vega
wrote five novels, each with one of the five vowels excluded from it.]

[Footnote 2: This French name for an enigmatical device is said to be
derived from the custom of the priests of Picardy at carnival time to
set up ingenious jests upon current affairs, 'de _rebus_ quae geruntur.']

[Footnote 3: Addison takes these illustrations from the chapter on
'Rebus or Name devises,' in that pleasant old book, Camden's Remains,
which he presently cites. The next chapter in the 'Remains' is upon

[Footnote 4: _Colloquia Familiaria_, under the title Echo. The dialogue
is ingeniously contrived between a youth and Echo.]

* * * * *

No. 60. Wednesday, May 9, 1711. Addison.

'Hoc est quod palles? Cur quis non prandeat, Hoc est?'

Per. 'Sat. 3.'

Several kinds of false Wit that vanished in the refined Ages of the
World, discovered themselves again in the Times of Monkish Ignorance.

As the Monks were the Masters of all that little Learning which was then
extant, and had their whole Lives entirely disengaged from Business, it
is no wonder that several of them, who wanted Genius for higher
Performances, employed many Hours in the Composition of such Tricks in
Writing as required much Time and little Capacity. I have seen half the
_AEneid_ turned into _Latin_ Rhymes by one of the _Beaux Esprits_ of that
dark Age; who says in his Preface to it, that the _AEneid_ wanted nothing
but the Sweets of Rhyme to make it the most perfect Work in its Kind. I
have likewise seen an Hymn in Hexameters to the Virgin _Mary,_ which
filled a whole Book, tho' it consisted but of the eight following Words.

_Tot, tibi, sunt, Virgo, dotes, quot, sidera, Caelo._

Thou hast as many Virtues, O Virgin, as there are Stars in Heaven.

The Poet rung the [changes [1]] upon these eight several Words, and by
that Means made his Verses almost as numerous as the Virtues and the
Stars which they celebrated. It is no wonder that Men who had so much
Time upon their Hands did not only restore all the antiquated Pieces of
false Wit, but enriched the World with Inventions of their own. It was
to this Age that we owe the Production of Anagrams,[2] which is nothing
else but a Transmutation of one Word into another, or the turning of the
same Set of Letters into different Words; which may change Night into
Day, or Black into White, if Chance, who is the Goddess that presides
over these Sorts of Composition, shall so direct. I remember a witty
Author, in Allusion to this kind of Writing, calls his Rival, who (it
seems) was distorted, and had his Limbs set in Places that did not
properly belong to them, _The Anagram of a Man_.

When the Anagrammatist takes a Name to work upon, he considers it at
first as a Mine not broken up, which will not shew the treasure it
contains till he shall have spent many Hours in the Search of it: For it
is his Business to find out one Word that conceals it self in another,
and to examine the Letters in all the Variety of Stations in which they
can possibly be ranged. I have heard of a Gentleman who, when this Kind
of Wit was in fashion, endeavoured to gain his Mistress's Heart by it.
She was one of the finest Women of her Age, and [known [3]] by the Name
of the Lady _Mary Boon_. The Lover not being able to make any thing of
_Mary_, by certain Liberties indulged to this kind of Writing, converted
it into _Moll_; and after having shut himself up for half a Year, with
indefatigable Industry produced an Anagram. Upon the presenting it to
his Mistress, who was a little vexed in her Heart to see herself
degraded into _Moll Boon_, she told him, to his infinite Surprise, that
he had mistaken her Sirname, for that it was not _Boon_ but _Bohun_.

_... Ibi omnis
Effusus labor ..._

The lover was thunder-struck with his Misfortune, insomuch that in a
little time after he lost his Senses, which indeed had been very much
impaired by that continual Application he had given to his Anagram.

The Acrostick [4] was probably invented about the same time with the
Anagram, tho' it is impossible to decide whether the Inventor of the one
of the other [were [5]] the greater Blockhead. The _Simple_ Acrostick is
nothing but the Name or Title of a Person or Thing made out of the
initial Letters of several Verses, and by that Means written, after the
Manner of the _Chinese_, in a perpendicular Line. But besides these
there are _Compound_ Acrosticks, where the principal Letters stand two
or three deep. I have seen some of them where the Verses have not only
been edged by a Name at each Extremity, but have had the same Name
running down like a Seam through the Middle of the Poem.

There is another near Relation of the Anagrams and Acrosticks, which is
commonly [called [6]] a Chronogram. This kind of Wit appears very often
on many modern Medals, especially those of _Germany_, [7] when they
represent in the Inscription the Year in which they were coined. Thus we
see on a Medal of _Gustavus Adolphus_ the following Words, CHRISTVS DUX
ERGO TRIVMPHVS. If you take the pains to pick the Figures out of the
several Words, and range them in their proper Order, you will find they
amount to MDCXVVVII, or 1627, the Year in which the Medal was stamped:
For as some of the Letters distinguish themselves from the rest, and
overtop their Fellows, they are to be considered in a double Capacity,
both as Letters and as Figures. Your laborious _German_ Wits will turn
over a whole Dictionary for one of these ingenious Devices. A Man would
think they were searching after an apt classical Term, but instead of
that they are looking out a Word that has an L, and M, or a D in it.
When therefore we meet with any of these Inscriptions, we are not so
much to look in 'em for the Thought, as for the Year of the Lord.

The _Boutz Rimez_ [8] were the Favourites of the _French_ Nation for a
whole Age together, and that at a Time when it abounded in Wit and
Learning. They were a List of Words that rhyme to one another, drawn up
by another Hand, and given to a Poet, who was to make a Poem to the
Rhymes in the same Order that they were placed upon the List: The more
uncommon the Rhymes were, the more extraordinary was the Genius of the
Poet that could accommodate his Verses to them. I do not know any
greater Instance of the Decay of Wit and Learning among the _French_
(which generally follows the Declension of Empire) than the endeavouring
to restore this foolish Kind of Wit. If the Reader will be at the
trouble to see Examples of it, let him look into the new _Mercure
Galant_; where the Author every Month gives a List of Rhymes to be
filled up by the Ingenious, in order to be communicated to the Publick
in the _Mercure_ for the succeeding Month. That for the Month of
_November_ [last], which now lies before me, is as follows.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - Lauriers
- - - - - - - - - - - - Guerriers
- - - - - - - - - - - - - Musette
- - - - - - - - - - - - - Lisette
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - Cesars
- - - - - - - - - - - - - Etendars
- - - - - - - - - - - - - Houlette
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -Folette

One would be amazed to see so learned a Man as _Menage_ talking
seriously on this Kind of Trifle in the following Passage.

_Monsieur_ de la Chambre _has told me that he never knew what he was
going to write when he took his Pen into his Hand; but that one
Sentence always produced another. For my own part, I never knew what I
should write next when I was making Verses. In the first place I got
all my Rhymes together, and was afterwards perhaps three or four
Months in filling them up. I one Day shewed Monsieur_ Gombaud _a
Composition of this Nature, in which among others I had made use of
the four following Rhymes,_ Amaryllis, Phillis, Marne, Arne,_ desiring
him to give me his Opinion of it. He told me immediately, that my
Verses were good for nothing. And upon my asking his Reason, he said,
Because the Rhymes are too common; and for that Reason easy to be put
into Verse. Marry, says I, if it be so, I am very well rewarded for
all the Pains I have been at. But by Monsieur_ Gombaud's _Leave,
notwithstanding the Severity of the Criticism, the Verses were good._

Vid. MENAGIANA. Thus far the learned _Menage,_ whom I have translated
Word for Word. [9]

The first Occasion of these _Bouts Rimez_ made them in some manner
excusable, as they were Tasks which the _French_ Ladies used to impose
on their Lovers. But when a grave Author, like him above-mentioned,
tasked himself, could there be anything more ridiculous? Or would not
one be apt to believe that the Author played [booty [10]], and did not
make his List of Rhymes till he had finished his Poem?

I shall only add, that this Piece of false Wit has been finely ridiculed
by Monsieur _Sarasin,_ in a Poem intituled, _La Defaite des Bouts-Rimez,
The Rout of the Bouts-Rimez._ [11]

I must subjoin to this last kind of Wit the double Rhymes, which are
used in Doggerel Poetry, and generally applauded by ignorant Readers. If
the Thought of the Couplet in such Compositions is good, the Rhyme adds
[little [12]] to it; and if bad, it will not be in the Power of the
Rhyme to recommend it. I am afraid that great Numbers of those who
admire the incomparable _Hudibras_, do it more on account of these
Doggerel Rhymes than of the Parts that really deserve admiration. I am
sure I have heard the

Pulpit, Drum Ecclesiastick,
Was beat with fist instead of a Stick,


There was an ancient sage Philosopher
Who had read Alexander Ross over,

more frequently quoted, than the finest Pieces of Wit in the whole Poem.


[Footnote 1: chymes]

[Footnote 2: This is an error. [Greek: Anagramma] meant in old Greek
what it now means. Lycophron, who lived B.C. 280, and wrote a Greek poem
on Cassandra, was famous for his Anagrams, of which two survive. The
Cabalists had a branch of their study called Themuru, changing, which
made mystical anagrams of sacred names.]

[Footnote 3: was called]

[Footnote 4: The invention of Acrostics is attributed to Porphyrius
Optatianus, a writer of the 4th century. But the arguments of the
Comedies of Plautus are in form of acrostics, and acrostics occur in the
original Hebrew of the 'Book of Psalms'.]

[Footnote 5: was]

[Footnote 6: known by the name of]

[Footnote 7: The Chronogram was popular also, especially among the
Germans, for inscriptions upon marble or in books. More than once, also,
in Germany and Belgium a poem was written in a hundred hexameters, each
yielding a chronogram of the date it was to celebrate.]

[Footnote 8: Bouts rimes are said to have been suggested to the wits of
Paris by the complaint of a verse turner named Dulot, who grieved one
day over the loss of three hundred sonnets; and when surprise was
expressed at the large number, said they were the 'rhymed ends,' that
only wanted filling up.]

[Footnote 9: Menagiana, vol. I. p. 174, ed. Amst. 1713. The Menagiana
were published in 4 volumes, in 1695 and 1696. Gilles Menage died at
Paris in 1692, aged 79. He was a scholar and man of the world, who had a
retentive memory, and, says Bayle,

'could say a thousand good things in a thousand pleasing ways.'

The repertory here quoted from is the best of the numerous collections
of 'ana.']

[Footnote 10: double]

[Footnote 11: Jean Francois Sarasin, whose works were first collected by
Menage, and published in 1656, two years after his death. His defeat of
the Bouts-Rimes, has for first title 'Dulot Vaincu' is in four cantos,
and was written in four or five days.]

[Footnote 12: nothing]

* * * * *

No. 61. Thursday, May 10, 1711. Addison.

'Non equidem studeo, bullalis ut mihi nugis
Pagina turgescal, dare pondus idonea fumo.'


There is no kind of false Wit which has been so recommended by the
Practice of all Ages, as that which consists in a Jingle of Words, and
is comprehended under the general Name of _Punning_. It is indeed
impossible to kill a Weed, which the Soil has a natural Disposition to
produce. The Seeds of Punning are in the Minds of all Men, and tho' they
may be subdued by Reason, Reflection and good Sense, they will be very
apt to shoot up in the greatest Genius, that is not broken and
cultivated by the Rules of Art. Imitation is natural to us, and when it
does not raise the Mind to Poetry, Painting, Musick, or other more noble
Arts, it often breaks out in Punns and Quibbles.

_Aristotle_, in the Eleventh Chapter of his Book of Rhetorick, describes
two or three kinds of Punns, which he calls Paragrams, among the
Beauties of good Writing, and produces Instances of them out of some of
the greatest Authors in the _Greek_ Tongue. _Cicero_ has sprinkled
several of his Works with Punns, and in his Book where he lays down the
Rules of Oratory, quotes abundance of Sayings as Pieces of Wit, which
also upon Examination prove arrant Punns. But the Age in which _the
Punn_ chiefly flourished, was the Reign of King _James_ the First. That
learned Monarch was himself a tolerable Punnster, and made very few
Bishops or Privy-Counsellors that had not some time or other signalized
themselves by a Clinch, or a _Conundrum_. It was therefore in this Age
that the Punn appeared with Pomp and Dignity. It had before been
admitted into merry Speeches and ludicrous Compositions, but was now
delivered with great Gravity from the Pulpit, or pronounced in the most
solemn manner at the Council-Table. The greatest Authors, in their most
serious Works, made frequent use of Punns. The Sermons of Bishop
_Andrews_, and the Tragedies of _Shakespear_, are full of them. The
Sinner was punned into Repentance by the former, as in the latter
nothing is more usual than to see a Hero weeping and quibbling for a
dozen Lines together.

I must add to these great Authorities, which seem to have given a kind
of Sanction to this Piece of false Wit, that all the Writers of
Rhetorick have treated of Punning with very great Respect, and divided
the several kinds of it into hard Names, that are reckoned among the
Figures of Speech, and recommended as Ornaments in Discourse. I remember
a Country School-master of my Acquaintance told me once, that he had
been in Company with a Gentleman whom he looked upon to be the greatest
_Paragrammatist_ among the Moderns. Upon Inquiry, I found my learned
Friend had dined that Day with Mr. _Swan_, the famous Punnster; and
desiring him to give me some Account of Mr. _Swan's_ Conversation, he
told me that he generally talked in the _Paranomasia_, that he sometimes
gave into the _Ploce_, but that in his humble Opinion he shined most in
the _Antanaclasis_.

I must not here omit, that a famous University of this Land was formerly
very much infested with Punns; but whether or no this might not arise
from the Fens and Marshes in which it was situated, and which are now
drained, I must leave to the Determination of more skilful Naturalists.

After this short History of Punning, one would wonder how it should be
so entirely banished out of the Learned World, as it is at present,
especially since it had found a Place in the Writings of the most
ancient Polite Authors. To account for this, we must consider, that the
first Race of Authors, who were the great Heroes in Writing, were
destitute of all Rules and Arts of Criticism; and for that Reason,
though they excel later Writers in Greatness of Genius, they fall short
of them in Accuracy and Correctness. The Moderns cannot reach their
Beauties, but can avoid their Imperfections. When the World was
furnished with these Authors of the first Eminence, there grew up
another Set of Writers, who gained themselves a Reputation by the
Remarks which they made on the Works of those who preceded them. It was
one of the Employments of these Secondary Authors, to distinguish the
several kinds of Wit by Terms of Art, and to consider them as more or
less perfect, according as they were founded in Truth. It is no wonder
therefore, that even such Authors as _Isocrates, Plato_, and _Cicero_,
should have such little Blemishes as are not to be met with in Authors
of a much inferior Character, who have written since those several
Blemishes were discovered. I do not find that there was a proper
Separation made between Punns and [true [1]] Wit by any of the Ancient
Authors, except _Quintilian_ and _Longinus_. But when this Distinction
was once settled, it was very natural for all Men of Sense to agree in
it. As for the Revival of this false Wit, it happened about the time of
the Revival of Letters; but as soon as it was once detected, it
immediately vanished and disappeared. At the same time there is no
question, but as it has sunk in one Age and rose in another, it will
again recover it self in some distant Period of Time, as Pedantry and
Ignorance shall prevail upon Wit and Sense. And, to speak the Truth, I
do very much apprehend, by some of the last Winter's Productions, which
had their Sets of Admirers, that our Posterity will in a few Years
degenerate into a Race of Punnsters: At least, a Man may be very
excusable for any Apprehensions of this kind, that has seen _Acrosticks_
handed about the Town with great Secrecy and Applause; to which I must

Facebook Google Reddit Twitter Pinterest