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to bribe me with the odd one in case he may succeed Sir Andrew Freeport, which he thinks would raise the credit of that fund. I have several letters, dated from Jenny Man's, by gentlemen who are candidates for Captain Sentry's place; and as many from a coffee-house in St. Paul's Church-yard, of such who would fill up the vacancy occasioned by the death of my worthy friend the clergyman, whom I can never mention but with a particular respect.
Having maturely weighed these several particulars, with the many remonstrances that have been made to me on this subject, and considering how invidious an office I shall take upon me, if I make the whole election depend upon my single voice, and being unwilling to expose myself to those clamours, which, on such an occasion, will not fail to be raised against me for partiality, injustice, corruption, and other qualities, which my nature abhors, I have formed to myself the project of a club as follows.
I have thoughts of issuing out writs to all and every of the clubs that are established in the cities of London and Westminster, requiring them to choose out of their respective bodies a person of the greatest merit, and to return his name to me before Lady-day, at which time I intend to sit upon business.
By this means, 1 may have reason to hope, that the club over which I shall preside, will be the very flowerand quintessence of all other clubs. I have communicated this my project to none but a particular friend of mine, whom I have celebrated twice or thrice for his happiness in that kind of wit which is commonly known by the name of a pun. The only objection he makes to it is, that I shall raise up ene. mies to myself if I act with so regal an air; and that my detractors, instead of giving me the usual title of SPECTA’TOR, will be apt to call me the KING OF CLUBS.
But to proceed on my intended project: It is very
well known that I at first set forth in this work with the character of a silent man; and I think I have so well preserved my taciturnity, that I do not remember to have violated it with three sentences in the space of almost two years. As a monosyllable is my delight, I have made very few excursions, in the conversations which I have related, beyond a yes or a no. By this means my readers have lost many good things which I have had in my heart, though I did not care for uttering them.
Now in order to diversify my character, and to shew the world how well I can talk if I have a mind, I have thoughts of being very loquacious in the club which I have now under consideration. But that I may proceed the more regularly in this affair, I design, upon the first meeting
of the said club, to have my mouth opened in form ; intending to regulaté myself in this particular by à certain ritual which I have by me, that contains all the ceremonies which are practised at the opening of the mouth of a cardinal. I have likewise examined the form's which were used of old by Pythagoras, when any of his scholars, after an apprenticeship of silence, was made free of his speech. In the mean time, as I have of late found my name in foreign gazettes upon less occasions, I question not but in their next articles from Great Britain, they will inform the world, that the SPECTATOR's mouth is to be opened on the twenty-fifth of March next. I may, perhaps, públish a very useful paper at that time, of the proceedings in that solemnity, and of the persons who shall assist at it. But of this more hereafter.
No. 556. FRIDAY, JUNE 18, 1714,
Qualis ubi in lucem coluber mala gramina pastus,
VIRG. U pon laying down the office of Spectator, I acquainted the world with my design of electing a pew club, and of opening my mouth in it after a most solemn manner.
Both the election and the ceremony are now past; but not finding it so easy as I at first imagined, to break through a fifty years silence, I would not venture into the world under the character of a man who pretends to talk like other people, until I had arrived at a full freedom of speech.
I shall reserve for another time the history of such club, or clubs, of which I am now a talkative, but unworthy member; and shall here give an account of this surprising change which has been produced in me, and which I look upon to be as remarkable an accident as any recorded in history, since that which happened to the son of Crąsus, after having been many years as much tongue-tied as myself,
Upon the first opening of my mouth, I made a , a
three days together, instead of finding the use of my tongue, I was afraid that I had quite lost it. Besides, the unusual extension of my muscles on this occasion, made my face ake on both sides to such a degree, that nothing but an invincible resolution and perseverance could have prevented me from falling back to my monosyllables.
I afterwards made several essays
towards speaking ; and that I might not be startled at my own voice, which has happened to me more than once, I used to read aloud in my chamber; and have often stood in the midle of the street to call a coach, when I knew there was none within hearing.
When with my own yoice, I laid hold of all opportunities to exert it. Not caring, however, to speak much by myself, and to draw upon me the whole attention of those I conversed with, I used, 'for some
time to walk every morning in the Mall, and talk in chorus with a parcel of Frenchmen. I found my modesty greatly relieved by the communicative temper of this nation, who are so very sociable, as to think they are never better company than when they are all opening at the same time.
I then fancied I might receive great benefit from female conversation, and that I should have a convenience of talking with the greatest freedom, when I was not under any impediment of thinking : I therefore threw myself into an assembly of ladies, but could not, for my life, get in a word among them; and found that if I did not change my company, I was in danger of being reduced to my primitive taciturnity.
The coffee-houses have ever since been my chief places of resort, where I have made the greatest improvements; in order to which, I have taken particular care never to be of the same opinion with the man I conversed with. I was a Tory at Button's, and a Whig at Child's; a friend to the Englishman, or an advocate for the Examiner, as it best served my turn. Some fancy me a great enemy to the French King, though, in reality, I only make use of him for a help to discourse. In short, I wrangle and dispute for exercise; and have carried this point so far, that I was once like to have been run through
the body for making a little too free with my betters. In a word, I am quite another man to what I was.
-Nil fuit unquam
My old acquaintance scarce knew me; nay, I was asked the other day by a Jew, at Jonathan's, whether I was not related to a dumb gentleman who used to come to that coffee-house? But I think I never was better pleased in my life than about a week ago, when, as I was battling it across the table with a young Templar, his companion gave him a pull by the sleeve, begging him to come away, for that the old prig would talk him to death.
Being now a very good proficient in discourse, I shall appear in the world with this addition to my character, that my countrymen may reap the fruits of my new acquired loquacity.
Those who have been present at public disputes in the university, know that it is usual to maintain heresies for argument's sake.
I have heard a man a most impudent Socinian for half an hour, who has been an orthodox divine all his life after. I have taken the same method to accomplish myself in the gift of utterance, having talked above a twelvemonth, not so much for the benefit of my hearers as of myself. But since I have now gained the faculty I have been so long endeavouring
after, I intend to make a right use of it, and shall think myself obliged for the future, to speak always in truth and sincerity of heart. While a man is learning to fence, he practises both on friend and foe; but when he is a master in the art, he never exerts it but on what he thinks the right side.
That this last allusion may not give my reader a wrong idea of my design in this paper, I must here inform him, that the author of it is of no faction, that he is a friend to no interests