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of harm, whether the facts be one way or the other. Lies which are told out of arrogance and ostentation, a man should detect in his own defence, because he should not be triumphed over. Lies which are told out of malice he should expose, both for his own sake and that of the rest of mankind, because every man should rise against a common enemy; but the officious liar, many have argued, is to be excused, because it does some man good, and no man hurt. The man who made more than ordinary speed from a fight in which the Athenians were beaten, and told them they had obtained a complete victory, and put the whole city into the utmost joy and exultation, was checked by the magistrates for this falsehood; but excused himself by saying, O Athenians! am I your enemy because I gave you two happy days ?. This fellow did to a whole people what an acquaintance of mine does every day he lives, in some eminent degree to particular per
He is ever lying people into good humour, and as Plato said it was allowable in physicians to lie to their patients to keep up their spirits, I am half doubtful whether my friend's behaviour is not excusable. His manner is to express himself surprised at the cheerful countenance of a man whom he observes diffident of himself; and generally by that means makes his lie a truth. He will, as if he did not know any thing of the circumstance, ask one whom he knows at variance with another, what is the meaning that Mr. Sucha-one, naming his adversary, does not applaud him with that heartiness which formerly he has heard him? • He said, indeed,' continues he, ' I would rather have that man for my friend than any man in England ; but for an enemy-This melts the person he talks to, who expected nothing but
down-right raillery from that side. According as he sees his practice succeed, he goes to the opposite party, and tells him, he cannot imagine how it happens that some people know one another so little ; · You spoke with so much coldness of a gentleman who said more good of you, than, let me tell you, any man living deserves.' The success of one of these incidents was, that the next time one of the adversaries spied the other, he hems after him in the public street, and they must crack a bottle at the next tavern, that used to turn out of the other's way to avoid one another's eye-shot. He will tell one beauty she was commended by another, nay, he will say she
gave the woman he speaks to the preference in a particular for which she herself is admired. The pleasantest confusion imaginable is made through the whole town by my friend's indirect offices. You shall have a visit returned after half a year's absence, and mutual railing at each other every day of that time. They meet with a thousand lamentations for so long a separation, each party naming herself for the greatest delinquent, if the other can possibly be so good as to forgive her, which she has no reason in the world, but from the knowledge of her goodness, to hope for. Very often a whole train of railers of each side tire their horses in setting matters right which they have said during the war between the parties; and a whole circle of acquaintance are put into a thousand pleasing passions and sentiments, instead of the pangs of anger, envy, detraction, and malice.
The worst evil I ever observed this man's falsehood occasion, has been, that he turned detraction into flattery. He is well skilled in the manners of the world, and by overlooking what men really
are, he grounds, his artifices upon what they have a mind to be. Upon this foundation, if two distant friends are brought together, and the cement seems to be weak, he never rests until he finds new appearances to take off all remains of ill-will, and that by new misunderstandings they are thoroughly reconciled.
TO THE SPECTATOR.
Devonshire, Nov. 14, 1711. « There arrived in this neighbourhood two days ago one of your gay gentlemen of the town, who being attended at his entry with a servant of his own, besides a countryman he had taken up for a guide, excited the curiosity of the village to learn whence and what he might be. The countryman (to whom they applied as most easy of access) knew little more than that the gentleman came from London to travel and see fashions, and was, as he heard say, a free-thinker.* What religion that might be, he could not tell: and for his own part, if they had not told him the man was a free-thinker, he should have guessed, by his way of talking, he was little better than a heathen ; excepting only that he had been a good gentleman to him, and made him drunk twice in one day, over and above what they had bargained for.
• I do not look upon the simplicity of this, and several odd inquiries with which I shall not trouble you, to be wondered at, much less can I think that our youths of fine wit, and enlarged understandings, have any reason to laugh. There is no
The person here alluded to was probably Mr. Toland, who is said by the Examiner to have been the butt of the Tatler and Spectator.
necessity that every 'squire in Great Britain should know what the word free-thinker stands for; but it were much to be wished, that they who value themselves upon that conceited title, were a little better instructed in what it ought to stand for; and that they would not persuade themselves a man is really and truly a free-thinker, in any tolerable sense, merely by virtue of his being an atheist, or an infidel of any other distinction. It may be doubted with good reason, whether there ever was in nature a more abject, slavish, and bigotted generation than the tribe of beauxesprits, at present so prevailing in this island. Their pretension to be free-thinkers, is no other than rakes have to be free-livers, and savages to be free-men; that is, they can think whatever they have a mind to, and give themselves up to whatever conceit the extravagancy of their inclination, or their fancy, shall suggest; they can think as wildly as they talk, and act, and will not endure that their wit should be controlled by such formal things as decency and common sense. Deduction, coherence, consistency, and all the rules of reason they accordingly disdain, as too precise and mechanical for men of a liberal education.
• This, as far as I could ever learn from their writings, or my own observation, is a true account of the British free-thinker. Our visitant here, who gave occasion to this paper, has brought with him a new system of common sense, the particuJars of which I am not yet acquainted with, but will lose no opportunity of informing myself whether it contain any thing worth Mr. Spectator's notice. In the mean time, sir, I cannot but think it would be for the good of mankind, if you would take this subject into your consideration, and convince the hopeful youth of our nation, that
licentiousness is not freedom; or, if such a paradox will not be understood, that a prejudice towards atheism is not impartiality.
I am, SIR,
No. 235. THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 1711,
HOR. Ars. Poet. v. 81.
Awes the tumultuous noises of the pit.
THERE is nothing which lies more within the province of a Spectator than public shows and diversions; and as among these there are none which can pretend to vie with those elegant entertainments that are exhibited in our theatres, I think it particularly incumbent on me to take notice of every thing that is remarkable in such numerous and refined assemblies.
It is observed, that of late years there has been a certain person in the upper gallery of the playhouse, who when he is pleased with any thing that is acted upon the stage, expresses his appro bation by a loud knock upon the benches or the wainscot, which may be heard over the whole theatre. The person is commonly known by the name of the Trunk-maker in the upper gallery.' Whether it be that the blow he gives on these occasions resembies that which is often heard in the shops of such artisans, or that he was supposed to have been a real trunk-maker, who, after the