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About a week since there happened to me a very odd accident by reason of one of these my papers of minutes which I had accidentally dropped at Lloyd's coffee-house, where the auctions are usually kept. Before I missed it, there were a cluster of people who had found it, and were diverting themselves with it at one end of the coffee-house: it had raised so much laughter among them before I had observed what they were about, that I had not the courage to own it. The boy of the coffee-house,
when they had done with it, carried it about in his hand, asking 10 everybody if they had dropped a written paper; but nobody
challenging it, he was ordered by those merry gentlemen who had before perused it, to get up into the auction-pulpit, and read it to the whole room, that if any one would own it, they might. The boy accordingly mounted the pulpit, and with a very audible voice read as follows:
MINUTES. Sir Roger de Coverley's country-seat-Yes, for I hate long speeches-Query, If a good Christian may be a conjurerChildermass-day, salt-seller, house-dog, screech-owl, cricket
Mr. Thomas Inkle of London, in the good ship called the 20 Achilles — Yarico Ægrescitque medendo — Ghosts the lady's
library-Lion by trade a tailor-Dromedary called BucephalusEquipage the lady's summum bonum-Charles Lillie to be taken notice of—Short face a relief to envy-Redundancies in the three professions-King Latinus a recruit-Jew devouring an ham of bacon-Westminster Abbey-Grand Cairo-ProcrastinationApril fools-Blue boars, red lions, hogs in armour-Enter a king and two fidlers solus—Admission into the ugly club-Beauty, how improveable-Families of true and false humour-The
parrot's school-mistress-Face half Pict half British-No man to 30 be an hero of a tragedy under six foot-Club of sighers—Letters
from flower-pots, elbow-chairs, tapestry-figures, lion, thunderThe bell rings to the puppet-show-Old woman with a beard married to a smock-faced boy—My next coat to be turned up with blue -- Fable of tongs and gridiron — Flower-dyers-The soldier's prayer-Thank ye for nothing, says the galley-potPactolus in stockings, with golden clocks to them-Bamboos, cudgels, drum sticks—Slip of my landlady's eldest daughter-The black mare with a star in her forehead-The barber's pole—
Will Honeycomb's coat-pocket-Cæsar's behaviour and my own in parallel circumstances-Poem in patch-work—Nulli gravis est percussus Achilles—The female conventicler-The ogle-master.
The reading of this paper made the whole coffee-house very merry; some of them concluded it was written by a madman, and others by somebody that had been taking notes out of the Spectator. One who had the appearance of a very substantial citizen, told us, with several politic winks and nods, that he
wished there was no more in the paper than what was expressed 10 in it: that for his part, he looked upon the dromedary, the grid
iron, and the barber's pole, to signify something more than what is usually meant by those words; and that he thought the coffeeman could not do better, than to carry the paper to one of the secretaries of state. He further added, that he did not like the name of the outlandish man with the golden clock in his stockings. A young Oxford scholar, who chanced to be with his uncle at the coffee-house, discovered to us who this Pactolus was; and by that means turned the whole scheme of this worthy
citizen into ridicule. While they were making their several 20 conjectures upon this innocent paper, I reached out my arm to the boy, as he was coming out of the pulpit, to give it me;
which he did accordingly. This drew the eyes of the whole company upon me; but after having cast a cursory glance over it, and shook my head twice or thrice at the reading of it, I twisted it into a kind of match, and lit my pipe with it. My profound silence, together with the steadiness of my countenance, and the gravity of my behaviour during this whole transaction, raised a very loud laugh on all sides of me; but as I had escaped all
suspicion of being the author, I was very well satisfied, and 30 applying myself to my pipe and the post-man, took no farther notice of any thing that passed about me.
My reader will find, that I have already made use of above half the contents of the foregoing paper; and will easily suppose, that those subjects which are yet untouched, were such provisions as I had made for his future entertainment. But as I have been unluckily prevented by this accident, I shall only give him the letters which relate to the two last hints. The first of them I should not have published, were I not informed that there is many an husband who suffers very much in his private affairs
by the indiscreet zeal of such a partner as is hereafter mentioned, to whom I may apply the barbarous inscription quoted by the Bishop of Salisbury in his travels n; Dum nimia pia est, facta est impia: Through too much piety she became impious.
'I am one of those unhappy men that are plagued with a gospel gossip, so common among dissenters (especially Friends). Lectures in the morning, church-meetings at noon, and pre
paration-sermons at night, take up so much of her time, it is 10 very rare she knows what we have for dinner, unless when the
preacher is to be at it. With him come a tribe, all brothers and sisters it seems; while others, really such, are deemed no relations. If at any time I have her company alone, she is a mere sermon popgun, repeating and discharging texts, proofs, and applications, so perpetually, that however weary I may go to bed, the noise in my head will not let me sleep till towards morning. The misery of my case, and great numbers of such sufferers, plead your pity and speedy relief, otherwise I must
expect, in a little time, to be lectured, preached, and prayed 20 into want, unless the happiness of being sooner talked to death prevent it.
• I am, &c.,
The second letter, relating to the ogling-master, runs thus.
"MR. SPECTATOR, "I am an Irish gentleman, that have travelled many years for my improvement; during which time I have accomplished myself in the whole art of ogling, as it is at present practised in
all the polite nations of Europe. Being thus qualified, I intend, 30 by the advice of my friends, to set up for an ogling-master.
I teach the church-ogle in the morning, and the playhouse-ogle by candle light. I have also brought over with me a new flying ogle fit for the Ring » ; which I teach in the dusk of the evening, or in any hour of the day by darkening one of my windows. I have a manuscript by me called the complete ogler, which I shall be ready to show you upon any occasion.
In the mean time, I beg you will publish the substance of this letter in an advertisement, and you will very much oblige, C.
[The Spectator amuses himself with speculation as to the judgments which some historian of a distant age will pass on the events and manners of Queen Anne's reign. He imagines him to write as follows about the Spectator.']
'It was under this reign,' says he, 'that the Spectator published those little diurnal essays which are still extant.
We know very little of the name or person of this author, except only that he was a man of a very short face, extremely addicted to silence, and so great a lover of knowledge, that he made a voyage to Grand Cairo for no other reason but to take the measure of a pyramid. His chief friend was one Sir Roger de Coverley, a whimsical country knight, and a Templar, whose
name he has not transmitted to us. He lived as a lodger at the 10 house of a widow-woman, and was a great humourist in all parts
of his life. This is all we can affirm with any certainty of his person and character. As for his speculations, notwithstanding the several obsolete words and obscure phrases of the age in which he lived, we still understand enough of them to see the diversions and characters of the English nation in his time : not but that we are to make allowance for the mirth and humour of the author, who has doubtless strained many representations of things beyond the truth. For if we interpret his words in their
literal meaning, we must suppose that women of the first quality 20 used to pass away whole mornings at a puppet-show: that they
attested their principles by their patches: that an audience would sit out an evening to hear a dramatical performance written in a language which they did not understand: that chairs and flower-pots were introduced as actors upon the British stage: that a promiscuous assembly of men and women were allowed to meet at midnight in masques within the verge of the court; with many improbabilities of the like nature. We must therefore, in these and the like cases, suppose that these remote hints
and allusions aimed at some certain follies which were then in 30 vogue, and which at present we have not any notion of. We
may guess by several passages in the speculations, that there were writers who endeavoured to detract from the works of this author, but as nothing of this nature has come down to us, we
cannot guess at any objections that could be made to his
paper. If we consider his style with that indulgence which we must shew to old English writers, or if we look into the variety of his subjects, with those several dissertations, moral reflexions..
The following part of the paragraph is so much to my advantage, and beyond anything I can pretend to, that I hope my reader will excuse me for not inserting it.-L.
No. 124. Difficulties of periodical writing ; increasing demand for the work : the Spectator not written for moles.'
Μέγα βίβλιον μέγα κακόν. .
A great book is a great evil. A man who publishes his works in a volume, has an infinite advantage over one who communicates his writings to the world 10 in loose tracts and single pieces. We do not expect to meet
with anything in a bulky volume, till after some heavy preamble, and several words of course, to prepare the reader for what follows: nay, authors have established it as a kind of rule, that a man ought to be dull sometimes, as the most severe reader makes allowances for many rests and nodding places n in a volumi
This gave occasion to the famous Greek proverb which I have chosen for my motto, That a great book is a
On the contrary, those who publish their thoughts in distinct 20 sheets, and as it were by piece-meal, have none of these advantages.
We must immediately fall into our subject, and treat every part of it in a lively manner, or
our papers are thrown by as dull and insipid : our matter must lie close together, and either be wholly new in itself, or in the turn it receives from
Were the books of our best authors thus to our expressions. be retailed to the public, and every page submitted to the taste of forty or fifty thousand readers, I am afraid we should complain of many flat expressions, trivial observations, beaten topics,
and common thoughts, which go off very well in the lump. At 30 the same time, notwithstanding some papers may be made