« AnteriorContinuar »
mediately awaked, and could not help wilhing, that the deputy censors of my late institution were indued with the same instinct as these parish lions.
NUMBER XX. *
Ingenuas didiciffe fideliter artes
Ovid. From Saturday, March 3. to Tuesday, March 6. 1710.
From my own apartments in Channel.row, March 5.
HOS E inferior duties of life, which the French
call Les petites morales, or the smaller morals, are with us distinguished by the name of good manners or breeding. This I look upon, in the general notion of it, to be a sort of artificial good sense, adapted to the meanest capacities, and introduced to make mankind easy in their commerce with each other. Low and little un. derstandings, without some rules of this kind, would be perpetually wandering into a thousand indecencies and ir. regularities in behaviour ; and in their ordinary conver. sation fall into the same boisterous familiarities, that one observes amongst them, when a debauch hath quite taken away the use of their reason. In other instances it is odd to consider, that, for want of common discretion, the very end of good breeding is wholly perverted, and civility, intended to make us ealy, is employed in laying chains and fetters upon us, in debarring us of our wishes, and in crosGng our most reasonable desires and inclinations. This a. bule reigns chiefly in the country, as I found to my vexation, when I was last there, in a visit I made to a neigh. bour about two miles from my cousin Assoon as I entered the parlour, they put me into the great chair that stood close by a huge fire, and kept me there by force until I was almost fifled. Then a boy came in a great hurry to pull off my boots, which I in vain opposed, urging that I myst return soon after dinner. In the mean time, the good lady whispered her eldest daughter, and flipped a key into her hand ; the girl returned instantly with a beer. glass full of aqua mirabilis and syrup of gilly-flowers. I took as much as I had a mind for, but Madam vowed I should drink it off ; for she was fure it would do me good after coming out of the cold air; and I was forced to o. bey, which absolutely took away my stomach. When dinner came in, I had a mind to sit at a distance from the fire ; but they told me it was as mnch as my life was worth, and set me with my back just against it. Although my appetite was quite gone, I was resolved to force down as much as I could, and desired the leg of a pullet. “In. “ deed Mr Bickerstaff, says the Lady, you must eat a “ wing to oblige me;" and so put a couple upon my plate. I was persecuted at this rate during the whole meal; as often as I called for small beer, the master tipped the wink, and the servant brought me a brimmer of October, Some time after dinner I ordered my cousin's man, who came with me, to get ready the horses ; but it was resolved I should not stir that night ; and when I Seemed pretty much bent on going, they ordered the stable-door to be locked, and the children hid my cloak and boots. The next question was, what would I have for fupper? I said, I never eat any thing at night; but was at last, in my own defence, obliged to name the first thing that came into my head. After three hours spent chiefly in apologies for my entertainment, insinuating to me, " That this was the worst time of the year for provi“ lions; that they were at a great distance from any mar
* This Tatler should be hung up in every 'Squire's hall in England. Orrery. Vol. V.
that they were afraid I should be starved; and that 6 they knew they kept me to my loss,” the Lady went, and left me to her husband ; for they took special care I should never be alone: as soon as her back was turned, the little misses ran backwards and forwards every moment, and constantly, as they came in and went out, made a curtesy directly at me, which, in good manners, I was forced to return with a bow, and your humble fer. vant, pretty Mifs. Exactly at eight the mother came up, and dilcovered by the redacls of her face, that lup
per was not far off.
It was twice as large as the dinner, and my persecution doubled in proportion. I desired, at my usual hour, to go to my repole, and was conducted to my chamber by the gentleman, his lady, and the whole train of children. They importuned me to drink fumething before I went to bed ; and, upou my refusing, at last left a bottle of singo, as they called it, for fear I should awake and be thirity in the night. I was forced in the morning to rise and drefs myself in the dark, because they would not suffer my kinsman's fervant to disturb me at the hour I desired to be called. I was now resolved to break through all mealores to get away; and, after, site ting down to a monstrous breakfast of cold beef, mutton, neats tongues, venison party, and stale beer, took leave of the family. But the gentleman would needs see me part of the way, and carry me a short cut through his owo ground, which he told me would save half a mile's riding. This last piece of civility had like to have cost me dear, being once or twice in danger of my neck by leaping over his ditches, and at last forced to alight in the dirt, when my horse, having flipped his bridle, ran away, and took us up more than an hour to recover him again.
It is evident, that none of the ablurdities I met with in this visit proceeded from an ill intention, but from a wrong judgment of complaisance, and a milapplication in the rules of it. I cannot so easily excuse the more refined critics upon behaviour, who having professed no other ftudy, are yet infinitely defective in the most material parts of it. Ned Fashion has been bred all his life ao bout court, and understands to a tittle all the punetilios of a drawing-room. He visits most of the fine woinen near St James's, and upon every occasion says the civilest and softest things to them of any man breathing. To Mr Ifaac* he owes an easy slide in his bow, and a graceful manner of coming into a room : but in some other cases he is very far from being a well-bred person. He laughs at inen of far super or understanding to his own for not being as well dressed as himself; delpiseth all his ac. qnaintance who are not of quality, and in public places hath on that account often avoided taking notice of some
• A famous dancing master in those days.
among the best speakers of the house of Commons. He raileth strenuously at both universities before the members of either; and is never heard to swear an oath, or break in upon religion and morality, except in the company of divines. On the other hand, a mau of right sense hath all the essentials of good breeding, although he may be wanting in the forms of it. Horatio hath spent most of his time at Oxford : he hath a great deal of learning, an agreeable wit, and as much modesty as may serve to adorn, without concealing his other good qualities. In that re. tired way of living he scemeth to have formed a notion of human nature, as he hath found it described in the writings of the greatest men, not as he is likely to meet with it in the common course of life. Hence it is, that be giveth no offence, but converseth with great deference, candor and humanity. His bow, I must confess, is somewhat aukward; but then he hath an extensive, universal, and unaffected knowledge, which may, perhaps, a little exo cute bim. He would make no extraordinary figure at a ball; but I can assure the ladies in his behalf, and for their own consolation, that he has writ better verses on the sex than any man now living, and is preparing such a poem for the press as will transmit their praises and his own to many generations.
HE following letter hath laid before me many which I had overlooked; but it opens to me a very bu.
* The letter to the Lord High Treasurer upon the same subject with this Tatler, is printed in the fourth of these volumes. It is said, that the author writ some other Tatlers, and several Spectators, and furnished hints for many more ; particularly,
fy scene, and it will require no small care and application to amend errors, which are become so universal. The affectation of politeness is exposed in this epistle with a great deal f wit and di'cernment; so that, whatever difcourses I
may fall into hereafter upon the subject the wri. ter treats of, I shall at present lay the matter before the world, without the leait alteration from the words of my correspondent.
T. ISAAC BICKERSTAFF, Esq:
SIR, “ There are fomo abuses among us of great consequence, the reformation of which is properly your
province ; although, as far as I have been conversant “ in your papers, you have not yet considered them, “ These are, the deplorable ignorance that for some years “ hath reigned among our English writers, the great de “ pravity of our taste, and the continual corruption of our stile. I fay nothing here of those who handle
pars “ ticular sciences, divinity, law, physic, and the like ; “ I mean the traders in history, and politics, and the “ Belles Lettres, together with those by whom books
are not translated, but (as the common expressions *« are) done out of French, Latin, or other languages, “ and made English. I cannot but observe to you, so that, until of late years, a Grub-street book was « always bound in sheep.fkin, with suitable print and
paper, the price never above a shilling, and taken « off wholly by common tradesmen or country ped. “ Jars : but now they appear in all sizes and shapes, and * in all places; they are banded about from lapfuls in
every coffee-houfe to persons of quality ; are shewn in • Westminster-hall and the Court of Requests; you “ may see them gilt, and in royal-paper, of five or fix “ hundred pages, and rated accordingly, I would en
gage to furnish you with a catalogue of English books,
The Tahles of fame. The life and adventures of a filling. The account of England by an Indian king, and some others: but, as we are informed, he would never tell his best friends the particular papers, Dublin edit.
H h 3