« AnteriorContinuar »
Spectator writ to himself, and which others commend because they fancy he received them from his correspondents. Such are those from the valetudinarian; the inspector of the sign-posts; the master of the fan exercise; with that of the hooped petticoat; that of Nicholas Hart the annual sleeper; that from Sir John Envil; that upon the London Cries; with multitudes of the same nature. As I love nothing more than to mortify the ill-natured, that I
may do it effectually, I must acquaint them they have very often praised me when they did not design it, and that they have approved my writings when they thought they had derogated from them. I have heard several of these unhappy gentlemen proving, by undeniable arguments, that I was not able to pen a letter which I had written the day before. Nay, I have heard some of them throwing out ambiguous expressions, and giving the company reason to suspect that they themselves did me the honour to send me such and such a particular epistle, which happened to be talked of with the esteem or approbation of those who were present. These rigid critics are so afraid of allowing me any thing which does not belong to me, that they will not be positive whether the lion, the wild boar, and the flower-pots in the play-house, did not actually write those letters which came to me in their names. I must therefore inform these gentlemen, that I often choose this way of casting my thoughts into a letter, for the following reasons. First, out of the policy of those who try their jest upon another, before they own it themselves. Secondly, because I would extort a little praise from such who will never applaud any thing whose author is known and certain. Thirdly, because it gave me an opportunity of introducing a great variety of characters into my work, which could not have been done had I always writ
ten in the person of the Spectator. Fourthly, because the dignity spectatorial would have suffered had I published as from myself those severe ludicrous compositions which I have ascribed to fictitious names and characters. And lastly, because they often serve to bring in more naturally such additional reflexions as have been placed at the end of thein.
There are others who have likewise done me a very particular honour, though undesignedly. These are such who will needs have it that I have translated or borrowed many of my thoughts out of books which are written in other languages. I have heard of a person, who is more famous for his library than his learning, that has asserted this more than once in his private conversation.* Were it true, I am sure he could not speak it from his own knowledge; but, had he read the books which he has collected, he would find this accusation to be wholly groundless. Those who are truly learned will acquit me in this point, in which I have been so far from offending, that I have been scrupulous, perhaps to a fault,' in quoting the authors of several passages which I might have made my own. But, as this assertion is in reality an encomium on what I have published, I ought rather to glory in it than endeavour to confute it.
Some are so very willing to alienate from me that small reputation which might accrue to me from any of these my speculations, that they attribute some of the best of them to those imaginary manuscripts with which I have introduced them. There are others, I must confess, whose objections have given me a greater concern, as they seem to reflect, under this
* The person here alluded to was most probably Mr. Thomas Rawlinson, ridiculed by Addison under the name of Tom Folio in the Tatler, No. 158.
head, rather on my morality than on my invention. These are they who say an author is guilty of falsehood, when he talks to the public of manuscripts which he never saw, or describes scenes of action or discourse in which he was never engaged. But these gentlemen would do well to consider, that there is not a fable or parable, which ever was made use of, that is not liable to this exception; since nothing, according to this notion, can be related innocently, which was not once matter of fact, Besides, I think the most ordinary reader may be able to discover, by my way of writing, what I deliver in these occurrences as truth, and what as fiction.
Since I am unawares engaged in answering the several objections which have been made against these my works, I must take notice that there are some who affirm a paper of this nature should always turn upon diverting subjects, and others who find fault with every one of them that hath not an immediate tendency to the advancement of religion or learning. I shall leave these gentlemen to dispute it out among themselves; since I see one half of my conduct patronised by each side. Were I serious on an improper subject, or trifling in a serious one, I should deservedly draw upon me the cen
my readers; or were I conscious of in my writings that is not innocent at least, or that the greatest part of them were not sincerely designed to discountenance vice and ignorance, and support the interest of truth, wisdom, and virtue, I should be more severe upon myself than the public is disposed to be. In the mean while I desire my reader to consider every particular paper or discourse as a distinct tract by itself, and independent of every thing that goes before or after it.
I shall end this paper with the following letter, which was really sent me, as some others have been which I have published, and for which I must own myself indebted to their respective writers.
I was this morning in a company of your well-wishers, when we read over, with great satisfaction, Tully's observation on action adapted to the British theatre: though by the way we were very sorry to find that you have disposed of another member of your club. Poor Sir Roger ia dead, and the worthy clergyman dying; Captain Sentry has taken possession of a good estate; Will Honeycomb has married a farmer's daughter; and the Templar withdraws himself into the business of his own profession. What will all this end in? We are afraid it portends no good to the public. Unless you very speedily fix the day for the election of new members, we are under apprehensions of losing the British Spectator. I hear of a party of ladies who intend to address you on this subject; and I question not, if you
do not give us the slip very suddenly, that you will receive addresses from all parts of the kingdom to continue so useful a work. liver us out of this perplexity; and, among the multitude of your readers, you will particularly oblige
• Your most sincere friend and servant, 0.
N° 543, SATURDAY, NOV, 22, 1712,
Facies non omnibus una,
Oyu, Met. ii. 12.
Similar, though not the same.
Those who were skilful in anatomy, among the ancients, concluded, from the outward and inward make of an human body, that it was the work of a Being transcendently wise and powerful. As the world grew more endightened in this art, their discoveries gave them fresh opportunities of admiring the conduc of Providence in the formation of an human body. Galen was converted by his dissections, and could not but own a Supreme Being upon a survey of this his handy-work. There were, indeed, many parts, of which the old anatomists did not know the certain use; but, as they saw the most of those which they examined were adapted with admirable art to their several functions, they did not question but those, whose uses they could not determine, were contrived with the same wisdom for respective ends and purposes. Since the circulation of the blood has been found out, and many other great discoveries have been made by our modern anatomists, we see new wonders in the human frame, and discern several important uses for those parts, which uses the ancients knew nothing of. In short, the body of man is such a subject as stands the utmost test of examination. Though it appears formed with the nicest wisdom, upon the most