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are of force enough to suppress our thoughts of them. If a man who has endeavoured to amuse his company with improbabilities, could but look into their minds, he would find that they imagine he lightly esteems of their sense when he thinks to impose upon them, and that he is less esteemed by them for his attempt in doing so. His endeavour to glory at their expense becomes a ground of quarrel, and the scorn and indifference with which they entertain it begins the immediate punishment: and indeed (if we should even go no further) silence, or a negligent indifference, has a deeper way of wounding than opposition, because opposition proceeds from an anger that has a sort of generous sentiment for the adversary mingling along with it, while it shows that there is some esteem in your mind for him: in short, that you think him worth while to contest with. But silence, or a negligent indifference, proceeds from anger, mixed with a scorn that shows another he is thought by you too contemptible to be regarded.
The other method which the world has taken for correcting this practice of false surprise, is to overshoot such talkers in their own bow, or to raise the story with further degrees of impossibility, and set up for a voucher to them in such a manner as must let them see they stand detected. Thus I have heard a discourse was once managed upon the effects of fear. One of the company had given an account how it had turned his friend's hair grey in a night, while the terrors of a shipwreck encompassed him. Another, taking the hint from hence, began upon his own knowledge to enlarge his instances of the like nature to such a number, that it was not probable he could ever have met with them: and as he still grounded these upon different causes for the sake of variety, it might seem at last, from his share
of the conversation, almost impossible that any one who can feel the passion of fear should all his life escape so common an effect of it. By this time some of the company grew negligent, or desirous to contradict him; but one rebuked the rest with an appearance of severity, and, with the known old story in his head, assured them they need not scruple to believe that the fear of any thing can make a man's hair grey, since he knew one whose periwig had suffered so by it. Thus he stopped the talk, and made them easy. Thus is the same method taken to bring us to shame, which we fondly take to increase our character. . It is indeed a kind of mimicry, by which another puts on our air of conversation to show us to ourselves. He seems to look ridiculous before you,
that you may remember how near a resemblance you bear to him, or that you may know he will not lie under the imputation of believing you. Then it is that you are struck dumb immediately with a conscientious shame for what have been saying. Then it is that you are inwardly grieved at the sentiments which you cannot but perceive others entertain concerning you. In short, you are against yourself; the laugh of the company runs against you; the censuring world is obliged to you for that triumph which you have allowed them at your own expense; and truth, which you have injured, has a near way of being revenged on you, when by the bare repetition of your story you become a frequent diversion for the public.
The other day, walking in Pancras churchyard, I thought of your paper wherein you mention epitaphs, and am of opinion this has a thought in it worth being communicated to your readers.
66 Here innocence and beauty lies, whose breath
Was snatch'd by early, not untimely, death.
I am, sir,
No. 539. TUESDAY, NOV. 18, 1712.
Be they heteroclites.
MR. SPECTATOR, I am a young widow of a good fortune and family, and just come to town; where I find I have clusters of pretty fellows come already to visit me, some dying with hopes, others with fears, though they never saw me. Now, what I would beg of you would be to know whether I may venture to use these pert fellows with the same freedom as I did my country acquaintance. I desire your leave to use them as to me shall seem meet, without imputation of a jilt; for since I make declaration that not one of them shall have me, I think I ought to be allowed the liberty of insulting those who have the vanity to believe it is in their power to make me break that resolution. There are schools for learning to use foils, frequented by those who never design to fight; and this useless way of aiming at the heart, without design to wound it on either side,
is the play with which I am resolved to divert my-
I am, sir,
DEAR MR. SPECTATOR,
I DEPEND upon your professed respect for virtuous love, for your immediately answering the design of this letter: which is no other than to lay before the world the severity of certain parents, who desire to suspend the marriage of a discreet young woman of eighteen, three years longer, for no other reason but that of her being too young to
enter into that state. As to the consideration of riches, my circumstances are such, that I cannot be. suspected to make my addresses to her on such low motives as avarice or ambition. If ever innocence, wit, and beauty, united their utmost charms, they have in her. I wish you would expatiate a little on this subject, and admonish her parents that it may be from the very imperfection of human nature itself, and not any personal frailty of her or me, that our inclinations, baffled at present, may alter; and while we are arguing with ourselves to put off the enjoyment of our present passions, our affections may change their objects in the operation. It is a very delicate subject to talk upon ; but if it were but hinted, I am in hopes it would give the parties concerned some reflection that might expedite our happiness. There is a possibility, and I hope I may say it without imputation of immodesty to her I love with the highest honour; I say there is a possibility this delay may be as painful to her as it is to me; if it be as much, it must be more, by reason of the severe rules the sex are under, in being denied even the relief of complaint. If you oblige me in this, and I succeed, I promise you a place at my wedding, and a treatment suitable to your spectatorial dignity. Your most humble servant,
• I YESTERDAY heard a young gentleman, that looked as if he was just come to the gown and a scarf, upon evil speaking: which subject, you know, Archbishop Tillotson has so nobly handled in a sermon in his folio. As soon as ever he had named his text, and had opened a little the drift of his discourse, I was in great hopes he had been one