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of the Egyptians. I shall not be so vain as to think that, where the SPECTATOR appears, the other public prints will vanish; but shall leave it to my readers' consideration, whether, is it not much better to be let into the knowledge of one's self, than to hear what passes in Muscovy or Poland; and to amuse ourselves with such writings as tend to the wearing out of ignorance, passion, and prejudice, than such as naturally conduce to inflame hatreds, and make enmities irreconcilable?
In the next place, I would recommend this paper to the daily perusal of those gentlemen whom I cannot but consider as my good brothers and allies, I mean the fraternity of Spectators, who live in the world without having anything to do in it; and either by the affluence of their fortunes, or laziness of their dispositions, have no other business with the rest of mankind, but to look upon them. Under this class of men are comprehended all contemplative tradesmen, titular physicians, fellows of the Royal Society, Templars that are not given to be contentious, and statesmen that are out of business; in short, every one that considers the world as a theatre, and desires to form a right judgment of those who are the actors on it.
There is another set of men that I must likewise lay a claim to, whom I have lately called the blanks of society, as being altogether unfurnished with ideas, till the business and conversation of the day has supplied them. I have often considered these poor souls with an eye of great commiseration, when I have heard them asking the first man they have met with, whether there was any news stirring? and by that means gathering together materials for thinking. These needy persons do not know what to talk of, till about twelve a clock in the morning; for by that time they are pretty good judges of the weather, know which way the wind sits, and whether the Dutch mail be come in. As they lie at the mercy of the first man they meet, and are grave or impertinent all the day long, according to the notions which they have imbibed in the morning, I would earnestly entreat them not to stir out of their chambers till they have read this paper, and do promise them that I will daily instil into them such sound and wholesome sentiments, as shall have a good effect on their conversation for the ensuing twelve hours.
But there are none to whom this paper will be more useful,
than to the female world. I have often thought there has not been sufficient pains taken in finding out proper employments and diversions for the fair ones.
Their amusements seem contrived for them, rather as they are women, than as they are reasonable creatures; and are more adapted to the sex than to the species. The toilet is their great scene of business, and the right adjusting of their hair the principal employment of their lives. The sorting of a suit of ribbons is reckoned a very good morning's work; and if they make an excursion to a mercer's or a toy-shop, so great a fatigue makes them unfit for anything else all the day after. Their more serious occupations are sewing and embroidery, and their greatest drudgery, the preparation of jellies and sweet-meats. This, I say, is the state of ordinary women; though I know there are multitudes of those of a more elevated life and conversation, that move in an exalted sphere of knowledge and virtue, that join all the beauties of the mind to the ornaments of dress, and inspire a kind of awe and respect, as well as love, into their male beholders. I hope to increase the number of these by publishing this daily paper, which I shall always endeavour to make an innocent if not an improving entertainment, and by that means at least divert the minds of my female readers from greater trifles. At the same time, as I would fain give some finishing touches to those which are already the most beautiful pieces in human nature, I shall endeavour to point out all those imperfections that are the blemishes, as well as those virtues which are the embellishments, of the sex. the mean while I hope these my gentle readers, who have so much time on their hands, will not grudge throwing away a quarter of an hour in a day on this paper, since they may do it without any hinderance to business.
I know several of my friends and well-wishers are in great pain for me, lest I should not be able to keep up the spirit of a paper which I oblige myself to furnish every day : but to make them easy in this particular, I will promise them faithfully to give it over as soon as I grow dull. This I know will be matter of great raillery to the small wits; who will frequently put me in mind of my promise, desire me to keep my word, assure me that it is high time to give over, with many other pleasantries of the like nature, which men of a little smart genius cannot forbear throwing out against their best
friends, when they have such a handle given them of being witty. But let them remember that I do hereby enter my caveat against this piece of raillery.
No. 12. WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14.
-Veteres avias tibi de pulmone revello. PERS.
Ar my coming to London, it was some time before I could settle myself in a house to my liking. I was forced to quit my first lodgings, by reason of an officious landlady, that would be asking me every morning how I had slept. I then fell into an honest family, and lived very happily for above a week; when my landlord, who was a jolly, good-natured man, took it into his head that I wanted company, and therefore would frequently come into my chamber to keep me from being alone. This I bore for two or three days; but telling me one day that he was afraid I was melancholy, I thought it was high time for me to be gone, and accordingly took new lodgings that very night. About a week after, I found my jolly landlord, who, as I said before, was an honest, hearty man, had put me into an advertisement of the Daily Courant, in the following words: "Whereas a melancholy man left his lodgings on Thursday last in the afternoon, and was afterwards seen going towards Islington; if any one can give notice of him to R. B., Fishmonger in the Strand, he shall be very well rewarded for his pains.' As I am the best man in the world to keep my own counsel, and my landlord the Fishmonger not knowing my name,1 this accident of my life was never discovered to this very day.
I am now settled with a widow-woman, who has a great many children, and complies with my humour in everything. I do not remember that we have exchanged a word together these five years; my coffee comes into my chamber every morning without asking for it; if I want fire I point to my chimney, if water, to my bason: upon which my landlady nods, as much as to say she takes my meaning, and imme
1 The construction irregular. It should be-“ and as my landlord, the fishmonger, did not know my name :' or else thus-" Being the best, &c. and my landlord, &c., not knowing my name.”
diately obeys my signals. She has likewise modelled her family so well, that when her little boy offers to pull me by the coat, or prattle in my face, his elder sister immediately calls him off, and bids him not to disturb the Gentleman. At my first entering into the family, I was troubled with the civility of their rising up to me every time I came into the room; but my landlady observing that upon these occasions I always cried pish, and went out again, has forbidden any such ceremony to be used in the house; so that at present I walk into the kitchen or parlour without being taken notice of, or giving any interruption to the business or discourse of the family. The maid will ask her mistress (though I am by) whether the Gentleman is ready to go to dinner, as the mistress (who is indeed an excellent housewife) scolds at the servants as heartily before my face as behind my back. In short, I move up and down the house and enter into all companies, with the same liberty as a cat or any other domestic animal, and am as little suspected of telling anything that I hear or see.
I remember last winter there were several young girls of the neighbourhood sitting about the fire with my landlady's daughters, and telling stories of spirits and apparitions. Upon my opening the door the young women broke off their discourse, but my landlady's daughters telling them that it was nobody but the Gentleman, (for that is the name that I go by in the neighbourhood as well as in the family,) they went on without minding me. I seated myself by the candle that stood on a table at one end of the room; and pretending to read a book that I took out of my pocket, heard several dreadful stories of ghosts as pale as ashes, that had stood at the feet of a bed, or walked over a church-yard by moon-light and of others that had been conjured into the Red Sea, for disturbing people's rest, and drawing their curtains at midnight; with many other old women's fables of the like 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 twelvemonth. 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. Į
heard one of the girls, that had looked upon me over her shoulder, asking the company how long I had 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 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 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.
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 consort of praise and adoration.