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and received by ministers of state, clandestine courtships and marriages, secret amours, losses at play, applications for places, with their respective successes or repulses, are the materials in which I chiefly intend to deal. I have two persons, that are each of them the representative of a species, who are to furnish me with those whispers which I intend to convey to my correspondents. The first of these is Peter Hush, descended from the ancient family of the Hushes. The other is the old Lady Blast, who has a very numerous tribe of daughters in the two great cities of London and Westminster. Peter Hush has a whispering hole in most of the great coffee-houses about town. If are alone with him in a wide room, he carries you up into a corner of it, and speaks in your ear. I have seen Peter seat himself in a company of seven or eight persons, whom he never saw before in his life; and after having looked about to see there was no one that overheard him, has communicated to them in a low voice, and under the seal of secrecy, the death of a great man in the country, who was perhaps a fox-hunting the very moment this account was giving of him. If upon your entering into a coffeehouse you see a circle of heads bending over the table, and lying close by one another, it is ten to one but my friend Peter is among them. I have known Peter publishing the whisper of the day by eight o'clock in the morning at Garraway's, by twelve at Will's, and before two at the Smyrna. When Peter has thus effectually launched a secret, I have been very well pleased to hear people whispering it to one another at second hand, and spreading it about as their own; for you must know, sir, the great incentive to whispering is the ambition which every one has of being thought in the secret, and being looked upon as a man who has access to greater people than one would imagine. After having given you this account of Peter Hush, I proceed to that virtuous lady, the old Lady Blast, who is to communicate to me the private transactions of the crimp table, with all the arcana of the fair sex. The Lady Blast, you must understand, has such a particular malignity in her whisper, that it blights like an easterly wind, and withers every reputation that it breathes upon. She has a particular knack at making private weddings, and last winter married above five women of quality to their footmen. Her whisper can make an innocent young woman big with child, or fill a healthful young fellow with distempers that are not to be named. She can turn a visit into an intrigue, and a distant salute into an assignation. She can beggar the wealthy, and de. grade the noble. In short, she can whisper men base and foolish, jealous or ill-natured, or, if occasion requires, can tell you the slips of their great grandmothers, and traduce the memory of honest coachmen that have been in their graves above these hundred years. By these, and the like helps, I question not but I shall furnish out a very handsome news-letter. If you approve my project, I shall begin to whisper by the very next post, and question not but every one of my customers will be very well pleased with me, when he considers that every piece of news I send him is a word in his ear, and lets him into a secret.
“Having given you a sketch of this project, I shall, in the next place, suggest to you another for a monthly pamphlet, which I shall likewise submit to your spectatorial wisdom. I need not tell you, sir, that there are several authors in France, Germany, and Holland, as well as in our own country,' who publish every month, what they call An Account of the Works of the Learned in which they give us an abstract of all such books as are printed in any part of Europe. Now, sir, it is my design to publish every month, An Account of the Works of the Unlearned. Several late productions of my own country-men, who many of them make a very eminent figure in the illiterate world, encourage me in this undertaking. I may, in this work, possibly make a review of several pieces which have appeared in the foreign accounts above-mentioned, though they ought not to have been taken notice of in works which bear such a title. I may, likewise, take into consideration such pieces as appear from time to time,
* Mr. Michael De la Roche, 38 vol. 8vo.; in Eng. under different titles; and in Fr. 8 tomes, 24mo.-C.
& The Lady Blast, &c. They that would know how to conduct a metaphor to advantage, would do well to study such passagės as this in out author.---H.
under the names of those gentlemen who compliment one another in public assemblies, by the title of the Learned Gentlemen. Our party-authors will also afford me a great variety of subjects, not to mention editors, commentators, and others, who are often men of no learning, or what is as bad, of no knowledge. I shall not enlarge upon this hint; but if you think any thing can be made of it, I shall set about it with all the pains and application that so useful a work deserves. “I am ever, most worthy sir," &c.
No. 458. FRIDAY, AUGUST 15.
"Αιδως ουκ αγαθή
I could not but smile at the account that was yesterday given me of a modest young gentleman, who being invited to an entertainment, though he was not used to drink, had not the con
1 The motto from Hesiod was not prefixed to this paper in the Spect. in folio.-C.
fidence to refuse his glass in his turn, when on a sudden he grew so flustered that he took all the talk of the table into his own hands, abused every one of the company, and flung a bottle at the gentleman's head who treated him. This has given me occasion to reflect upon the ill effects of a vicious modesty, and to remember the saying of Brutus, as it is quoted by Plutarch, that the person has but an ill education who has not been taught to deny any thing. This false kind of modesty has, perhaps, betrayed both sexes into as many vices as the most abandoned im. pudence, and is the more inexcusable to reason, because it acts to gratify others rather than itself, and is punished with a kind of remorse, not only like other vicious habits when the crime is over, but even at the very time that it is committed.
Nothing is more amiable than true modesty, and nothing is more contemptible than the false. The one guards virtue, the other betrays it. True modesty is ashamed to do any thing that is repugnant to the rules of right reason: false modesty is ashamed to do any thing that is opposite to the humour of the company. True modesty avoids every thing that is criminal, false modesty every thing that is unfashionable. The latter is only a general undetermined instinct; the former is that instinct, limited and circumscribed by the rules of prudence and religion.
We may conclude that modesty to be false and vicious, which engages a man to do any thing that is ill or indiscreet, or which restrains him from doing any thing that is of a contrary nature. · How many men, in the common concerns of life, lend sums of money which they are not able to spare, are bound for persons whom they have but little friendship for, give recommendatory characters of men whom they are not acquainted with, bestow places on those whom they do not esteem, live in such a manner as they themselves do not approve; and all this merely because they
have not the confidence to resist solicitati in, importunity, or example.
Nor does this false modesty expose us only to such actions as are indiscreet, but very often to such as are highly criminal. When Xenophanes was called timorous, because he would not venture his money in a game at dice: 'I confess, (said he,) that I am exceeding timorous, for I dare not do an ill thing.' On the contrary, a man of vicious modesty complies with every thing, and is only fearful of doing what may look singular in the company where he is engaged. He falls in with the torrent, and lets himself go to every action or discourse, however unjustifiable in itself, so it be in vogue among the present party. This, though one of the most common, is one of the most ridiculous dispositions in human nature, that men should not be ashamed of speaking or acting in a dissolute or irrational manner, but that one who is in their company should be ashamed of governing himself by the principles of reason and virtue.
In the second place we are to consider false modesty, as it restrains a man from doing what is good and laudable. My reader's own thoughts will suggest to him many instances and examples under this head. I shall only dwell upon one reflection, which I cannot make without a secret concern. We have in England a particular bashfulness in every thing that regards religion. A well-bred man is obliged to conceal any serious sentiment of this nature, and very often to appear a greater libertine than he is, that he may keep himself in countenance among the men of mode.
Our excess of modesty makes us shame-faced in all the exercises of piety and devotion. This humour prevails upon us daily ; insomuch, that at many well-bred tables, the master of the house is so very modest a man, that he has not the confidence to say grace at his own table : a custom which is not only practised by all the nations about us, but was never omitted by