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nature. As one spirit raised another, I observed that at the end of every story the whole company closed their ranks, and crowded about the fire: I took notice, in particular, of a little boy, who was so attentive to every story, that I am mistaken if he ventures to go to bed by himself this twelve-month. Indeed they talked so long, that the imaginations of the whole assembly were manifestly crazed, and, I am sure, will be the worse for it as long as they live. I heard one of the girls, that had looked
upon me over her shoulder, asking the company how long I had 10 been in the room, and whether I did not look paler than I used
to do. This put me under some apprehensions, that I should be forced to explain myself if I did not retire; for which reason I took the candle in my hand, and went up into my chamber, not without wondering at this unaccountable weakness in reasonable creatures, that they should love to astonish and terrify one another. Were I a father, I should take a particular care to preserve my children from these little horrors of imagination, which they are apt to contract when they are young, and are not
able to shake off when they are in years. I have known a soldier 20 that has entered a breach, affrighted at his own shadow; and
look pale upon a little scratching at his door, who, the day before, had marched up against a battery of cannon. There are instances of persons, who have been terrified even to distraction at the figure of a tree, or the shaking of a bull-rush. The truth of it is, I look upon a sound imagination as the greatest blessing of life, next to a clear judgment and a good conscience. In the mean time, since there are very few whose minds are not more or less subject to these dreadful thoughts and apprehensions, we
ought to arm ourselves against them by the dictates of reason 30 and religion, to pull the old woman out of our hearts, as Persius
expresses it in the motto of my paper, and extinguish those impertinent notions which we imbibed at a time that we were not able to judge of their absurdity. Or, if we believe, as many wise and good men have done, that there are such phantoms and apparitions as those I have been speaking of, let us endeavour to establish to ourselves an interest in Him who holds the reins of the whole creation in his hand, and moderates them after such a manner, that it is impossible for one being to break loose upon
another, without his knowledge and permission. 40 For my own part, I am apt to join in opinion with those who believe that all the regions of nature swarm with spirits, and that we have multitudes of spectators on all our actions, when we think ourselves most alone; but instead of terrifying myself with such a notion, I am wonderfully pleased to think that I am always engaged with such an innumerable society, in searching out the wonders of the creation, and joining in the same concert of praise and adoration.
Milton has finely described this mixed communion of men and spirits in Paradise; and had doubtless his eye upon a verse in old 10 Hesiod , which is almost word for word the same with his third line in the following passage.
• Nor think, though men were none,
No. 34. Discussion at the Club ; professional susceptibilities of certain
members; it is agreed that the Spectator's satire shall be unfettered, so long as it is general.
parcit Cognatis maculis similis fera.
Juv. Sat. xv. 159. The club of which I am a member, is very luckily composed of such persons as are engaged in different ways of life, and deputed as it were out of the most conspicuous classes of mankind: by this
means I am furnished with the greatest variety of hints and ma30 terials, and know everything that passes in the different quarters
and divisions, not only of this great city, but of the whole kingdom. My readers too have the satisfaction to find, that there is no rank
or degree among them who have not their representative in this club, and that there is always somebody present who will take care of their respective interests, that nothing may be written or published to the prejudice or infringement of their just rights and privileges.
I last night sat very late in company with this select body of friends, who entertained me with several remarks which they and others had made upon these my speculations, as also with the
various success which they had met with among their several ranks 10 and degrees of readers. Will Honeycomb told me, in the softest
manner he could, that there were some ladies (but for your comfort, says Will, they are not those of the most wit) that were offended at the liberties I had taken with the opera and the puppet show; that some of them were likewise very much surprised, that I should think such serious points as the dress and equipage of persons of quality, proper subjects for raillery.
He was going on, when Sir Andrew Freeport took him up short, and told him, that the papers he hinted at had done great good in
the city, and that all their wives and daughters were the better 20 for them; and further added, that the whole city thought them
selves very much obliged to me for declaring my generous intentions to scourge vice and folly as they appear in a multitude, without condescending to be a publisher of particular intrigues. 'In short,' says Sir Andrew, “if you avoid that foolish beaten road of falling upon aldermen and citizens, and employ your pen upon the vanity and luxury of courts, your paper must needs be of general use.'
Upon this my friend the Templar told Sir Andrew, that he wondered to hear a man of his sense talk after that manner; that 30 the city had always been the province for satire; and that the
wits of King Charles's time jested upon nothing else during his whole reign. He then shewed, by the examples of Horace, Juvenal, Boileau, and the best writers of every age, that the follies of the stage and court had never been accounted too sacred for ridicule, how great soever the persons might be that patronised them: “But after all,' says he, “I think your raillery has made too great an excursion in attacking several persons of the Inns of Court; and I do not believe you can shew me any precedent for your behaviour in that particular.'
My good friend Sir Roger de Coverley, who had said nothing
all this while, began his speech with a pish! and told us, that he wondered to see so many men of sense so very serious upon fooleries. “Let our good friend,' says he, attack every one that deserves it: I would only advise you, Mr. Spectator,' applying himself to me, 'to take care how you meddle with country squires : they are the ornaments of the English nation; men of good heads and sound bodies ! and let me tell you, some of them take it ill of you, that you mention fox hunters with so little respect.'
Captain Sentry spoke very sparingly on this occasion. What 10 he said was only to commend my prudence in not touching upon
the army, and advised me to continue to act discreetly in that point.
By this time I found every subject of my speculations was taken away from me, by one or other of the club; and began to think myself in the condition of the good man that had one wife who took a dislike to his grey hairs, and another to his black, till by their picking out what each of them had an aversion to, they left his head altogether bald and naked.
While I was thus musing with myself, my worthy friend the 20 clergyman, who, very luckily for me, was at the club that night,
undertook my cause. He told us that he wondered any order of persons should think themselves too considerable to be advised : that it was not quality, but innocence, which exempted men from reproof: that vice and folly ought to be attacked wherever they could be met with, and especially when they were placed in high and conspicuous stations of life. He further added, that my paper would only serve to aggravate the pains of poverty, if it chiefly exposed those who are already depressed, and in some measure
turned into ridicule, by the meanness of their conditions and cir30 cumstances. He afterwards proceeded to take notice of the great
use this paper might be of to the public, by reprehending those vices which are too trivial for the chastisement of the law, and too fantastical for the cognizance of the pulpit. He then advised me to prosecute my undertaking with chearfulness, and assured me, that whoever might be displeased with me, I should be approved by all those whose praises do honour to the persons on whom they are bestowed.
The whole club pays a particular deference to the discourse of this gentleman, and are drawn into what he says as much by the 40 candid ingenuous manner with which he delivers himself, as by the
strength of argument and force of reason which he makes use of. Will Honeycomb immediately agreed, that what he had said was right; and that, for his part, he would not insist upon
the quarter which he had demanded for the ladies. Sir Andrew gave up the city with the same frankness. The Templar would not stand out; and was followed by Sir Roger and the Captain ; who all agreed that I should be at liberty to carry the war into what quarter I pleased; provided I continued to combat with criminals in a body, and to assault the vice without hurting the person.
.This debate which was held for the good of mankind, put me in mind of that which the Roman triumviraten were formerly engaged in for their destruction. Every man at first stood hard for his friend, till they found that by this means they should spoil their proscription : and at last making a sacrifice of all their acquaintance and relations, furnished out a very decent execution.
Having thus taken my resolutions, to march on boldly in the cause of virtue and good sense, and to annoy their adversaries in whatever degree or rank of men they may be found, I shall be
deaf for the future to all the remonstrances that shall be made to 20 me on this account. If Punch grows extravagant, I shall repri
mand him very freely: if the stage becomes a nursery of folly and impertinence, I shall not be afraid to animadvert upon it. In short, if I meet with anything in city, court, or country, that shocks modesty or good manners, I shall use my utmost endeavours to make an example of it. I must however intreat every particular person who does me the honour to be a reader of this paper, never to think himself, or any one of his friends or enemies, aimed at in what is said : for I promise him, never to draw a faulty
character which does not fit at least a thousand people : or to 30 publish a single paper, that is not written in the spirit of benevo
lence, and with a love to mankind.-C.
No. 105. The gay youth of Will Honeycomb; reflections on pedantry
TER. Andria, Act. 1. Sc. I.
upon what he calls the knowledge of mankind, which has cost him