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always had a very easy fortune, time has made but a very little impression, either by wrinkles on his forehead, or traces on his brain. His person is well turned, and of a good height. He is very ready at that sort of discourse with which men usually enter- 5 tain women.
He has all his life dressed very well, and remembers habits as others do men. smile when one speaks to him, and laughs easily. He knows the history of every mode, and can inform you from which of the French king's wenches, 10 our wives and daughters had this manner of curling their hair, that way of placing their hoods; whose frailty was covered by such a sort of petticoat, and whose vanity to show her foot made that part of the dress so short in such a year. In a word, all 15 his conversation and knowledge has been in the female world. As other men of his age will take notice to you 29 what such a minister said upon
such and such an occasion, he will tell you, when the duke of Monmouth 30 danced at court, such a woman 20 was then smitten, another was taken with him at the head of his troop in the Park. In all these important relations, he has ever about the same time received a kind glance, or a blow of a fan from some celebrated beauty, mother of the present lord 25 Such-a-one. This way of talking of his, very much enlivens the conversation among us of a more sedate turn, and I find there is not one of the company, but myself, who rarely speaks at all, but speaks of
him as of that sort of man, who is usually called a well-bred fine gentleman. To conclude his character, where women are not concerned, he is an honest
worthy man. 5 I cannot tell whether I am to account him, whom
I am next to speak of, as one of our company; for he visits us but seldom, but when he does, it adds to every man else a new enjoyment of himself. He
is a clergyman, a very philosophic man, of general 10 learning, great sanctity of life, and the most exact
good breeding. He has the misfortune to be of a very weak constitution, and consequently cannot accept of such cares and business as preferments in
his function would oblige him to; he is therefore 15 among divines what a chamber-counselor is among
lawyers. The probity of his mind, and the integrity of his life, create him followers, as being eloquent or loud advances others. He seldom introduces the
subject he speaks upon; but we are so far gone in 20 years, that he observes when he is among us, an
earnestness to have him fall on some divine topic, which he always treats with much authority, as one who has no interest in this world, as one who is
hastening to the object of all his wishes, and con25 ceives hope from his decays and infirmities. These
are my ordinary companions.
No. 3. Unwise Ambition
SPECTATOR No. 6. Wednesday, March 7, 1710-11
Credebant hoc grande nefas, et morte piandum,
Juv. Sat. xiii. 54.
I KNOW no evil under the sun so great as the abuse of the understanding, and yet there is no one vice more common. It has diffused itself through both sexes, and all qualities of mankind; and there is hardly that person to be found, who is not more 5 concerned for the reputation of wit and sense, than of honesty and virtue. But this unhappy affectation of being wise rather than honest, witty than good-natured, is the source of most of the ill habits of life. Such false impressions are owing to the 10 abandoned writings of men of wit, and the awkward imitation of the rest of mankind.
For this reason Sir Roger was saying last night, that he was of opinion none but men of fine parts deserve to be hanged. The reflections of such men 15 are so delicate upon all occurrences which they are concerned in, that they should be exposed to more than ordinary infamy and punishment, for offending against such quick admonitions as their own souls give them, and blunting the fine edge of their minds 20 in such a manner, that they are no more shocked at vice and folly than men of slower capacities. There
is no greater monster in being, than a very ill man of great parts. He lives like a man in a palsy, with one side of him dead. While perhaps he enjoys
the satisfaction of luxury, of wealth, of ambition, 5 he has lost the taste of good-will, of friendship, of
innocence. Scarecrow, the beggar in Lincoln's-innfields, who disabled himself in his right leg, and asks alms all day to get himself a warm supper at night, is not half so despicable a wretch, as such a man of sense. The beggar has no relish above sensations; he finds rest more agreeable than motion; and while he has a warm fire, never reflects that he deserves to be whipped. Every man who termi
nates his satisfactions and enjoyments within the 15 supply of his own necessities and passions, is, says
Sir Roger, in my eye, as poor a rogue as Scarecrow. “But,” continued he, “for the loss of public and private virtue we are beholden to your men of fine
parts forsooth; it is with them no matter what is 20 done, so it be done with an air. But to me, who
am so whimsical in a corrupt age as to act according to nature and reason, a selfish man, in the most shining circumstance and equipage, appears in the
same condition with the fellow above-mentioned, 25 but more contemptible in proportion to what more
he robs the public of, and enjoys above him. it down therefore for a rule, that the whole man is to move together; that every action, of any importance, is to have a prospect of public good: and
I lay that the general tendency of our indifferent actions ought to be agreeable to the dictates of reason, of religion, of good-breeding; without this, a man, as I have before hinted, is hopping instead of walking, he is not in his entire and proper motion."
5 While the honest knight was thus bewildering himself in good starts, I looked intentively upon him, which made him, I thought, collect his mind a little. “What I aim at,” says he, “is to represent that, I am of opinion, to polish our understandings, 10 and neglect our manners, is of all things the most inexcusable. Reason should govern passion, but instead of that, you see, it is often subservient to it; and as unaccountable as one would think it, a wise man is not always a good man.” This degen- 15 eracy is not only the guilt of particular persons, but also, at some times, of a whole people; and perhaps it may appear upon examination, that the most polite ages are the least virtuous. This may be attributed to the folly of admitting wit and learning 20 as merit in themselves, without considering the application of them. By this means it becomes a rule, not so much to regard what we do, as how we do it. But this false beauty will not pass upon men of honest minds and true taste. Sir Richard 25 Blackmore 5 says, with as much good sense as virtue, “It is a mighty shame and dishonor to employ excellent faculties and abundance of wit, to humor and please men in their vices and follies. The great