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all this while, began his speech with a pish! and told us, that he wondered to see so many men of sense so very serious upon fooleries. 'Let our good friend,' says he, 'attack every one that deserves it I would only advise you, Mr. Spectator,' applying himself to me, 'to take care how you meddle with country squires : they are the ornaments of the English nation; men of good heads and sound bodies! and let me tell you, some of them take it ill of you, that you mention fox hunters with so little respect.'
Captain Sentry spoke very sparingly on this occasion. What 10 he said was only to commend my prudence in not touching upon the army, and advised me to continue to act discreetly in that point.
By this time I found every subject of my speculations was taken away from me, by one or other of the club; and began to think myself in the condition of the good man that had one wife who took a dislike to his grey hairs, and another to his black, till by their picking out what each of them had an aversion to, they left his head altogether bald and naked.
While I was thus musing with myself, my worthy friend the 20 clergyman, who, very luckily for me, was at the club that night, undertook my cause. He told us that he wondered any order of persons should think themselves too considerable to be advised: that it was not quality, but innocence, which exempted men from reproof: that vice and folly ought to be attacked wherever they could be met with, and especially when they were placed in high and conspicuous stations of life. He further added, that my paper would only serve to aggravate the pains of poverty, if it chiefly exposed those who are already depressed, and in some measure turned into ridicule, by the meanness of their conditions and cir30 cumstances. He afterwards proceeded to take notice of the great use this paper might be of to the public, by reprehending those vices which are too trivial for the chastisement of the law, and too fantastical for the cognizance of the pulpit. He then advised me to prosecute my undertaking with chearfulness, and assured me, that whoever might be displeased with me, I should be approved by all those whose praises do honour to the persons on whom they are bestowed.
The whole club pays a particular deference to the discourse of this gentleman, and are drawn into what he says as much by the 40 candid ingenuous manner with which he delivers himself, as by the
strength of argument and force of reason which he makes use of. Will Honeycomb immediately agreed, that what he had said was right; and that, for his part, he would not insist upon the quarter which he had demanded for the ladies. Sir Andrew gave up the city with the same frankness. The Templar would not stand out; and was followed by Sir Roger and the Captain; who all agreed that I should be at liberty to carry the war into what quarter I pleased; provided I continued to combat with criminals in a body, and to assault the vice without hurting the person.
This debate which was held for the good of mankind, put me in mind of that which the Roman triumvirate" were formerly engaged in for their destruction. Every man at first stood hard for his friend, till they found that by this means they should spoil their proscription: and at last making a sacrifice of all their acquaintance and relations, furnished out a very decent execution.
Having thus taken my resolutions, to march on boldly in the cause of virtue and good sense, and to annoy their adversaries in whatever degree or rank of men they may be found, I shall be deaf for the future to all the remonstrances that shall be made to 20 me on this account. If Punch grows extravagant, I shall reprimand him very freely: if the stage becomes a nursery of folly and impertinence, I shall not be afraid to animadvert upon it. In short, if I meet with anything in city, court, or country, that shocks modesty or good manners, I shall use my utmost endeavours to make an example of it. I must however intreat every particular person who does me the honour to be a reader of this paper, never to think himself, or any one of his friends or enemies, aimed at in what is said: for I promise him, never to draw a faulty character which does not fit at least a thousand people: or to 30 publish a single paper, that is not written in the spirit of benevolence, and with a love to mankind.—C.
No. 105. The gay youth of Will Honeycomb; reflections on pedantry and pedants.
Adprime in vita esse utile, ne quid nimis.
TER. Andria, Act. I. Sc. I.
My friend Will Honeycomb values himself very much upon what he calls the knowledge of mankind, which has cost him
many disasters in his youth; for Will reckons every misfortune that he has met with among the women, and every rencounter among the men, as parts of his education, and fancies he should never have been the man he is, had not he broke windows, knocked down constables, disturbed honest people with his midnight serenades, and beat up Phryne's quarters, when he was a young fellow. The engaging in adventures of this nature Will calls the studying of mankind, and terms this knowledge of the town, the knowledge of the world. Will 10 ingenuously confesses, that for half his life his head ached every morning with reading of men over night; and at present comforts himself under sundry infirmities with the reflection, that without them he could not have been acquainted with the gallantries of the age. This Will looks upon as the learning of a gentleman, and regards all other kinds of science as the accomplishments of one whom he calls a scholar, a bookish man, or a philosopher.
For these reasons Will shines in a mixed company, where he has the discretion not to go out of his depth, and has often a 20 certain way of making his real ignorance appear a seeming one. Our club however has frequently caught him tripping, at which times they never spare him. For as Will often insults us with the knowledge of the town, we sometimes take our revenge upon him by our knowledge of books.
He was last week producing two or three letters which he writ in his youth to a coquette lady. The raillery of them was natural, and well enough for a mere man of the town; but, very unluckily, several of the words were wrong spelt. Will laughed this off at first as well as he could, but finding 30 himself pushed on all sides, and especially by the Templar, he told us, with a little passion, that he never liked pedantry in spelling, and that he spelt like a gentleman, and not like a scholar upon this Will had recourse to his old topic of shewing the narrow-spiritedness, the pride and ignorance of pedants; which he carried so far, that upon my retiring to my lodgings, I could not forbear throwing together such reflections as occurred to me upon that subject.
A man who has been brought up among books, and is ablę to talk of nothing else, is a very indifferent companion, and 40 what we call a pedant. But, methinks, we should enlarge the
title, and give it every one that does not know how to think out of his profession and particular way of life.
What is a greater pedant than a mere man of the town? Bar him the play-houses, a catalogue of the reigning beauties, and an account of a few fashionable distempers that have befallen him, and you strike him dumb. How many a pretty gentleman's knowledge lies all within the verge of the court ? He will tell you the names of the principal favourites, repeat the shrewd sayings of a man of quality, whisper an intrigue 10 that is not yet blown upon by common fame: or, if the sphere of his observation is a little larger than ordinary, will perhaps enter into all the incidents, turns, and revolutions in a game of ombre n. When he has gone thus far, he has shewn you the whole circle of his accomplishments, his parts are drained, and he is disabled from any farther conversation. What are these but rank pedants? and yet these are the men who value themselves most on their exemption from the pedantry of colleges.
I might here mention the military pedant, who always talks in a camp, and is storming towns, making lodgments, and fighting 20 battles from one end of the year to the other. Everything he speaks smells of gunpowder; if you take away his artillery from him, he has not a word to say for himself. I might likewise mention the law pedant, that is perpetually putting cases, repeating the transactions of Westminster Hall, wrangling with you upon the most indifferent circumstances of life, and not to be convinced of the distance of a place, or of the most trivial point in conversation, but by dint of argument. The state pedant is wrapped up in news, and lost in politics. If you mention either of the kings of Spain or Poland, he talks 30 very notably; but if you go out of the gazette, you drop him. In short, a mere courtier, a mere soldier, a mere scholar, a mere anything, is an insipid pedantic character, and equally ridiculous. Of all the species of pedants, which I have mentioned, the book pedant is much the most supportable; he has at least an exercised understanding, and a head which is full though confused, so that a man who converses with him may often receive from him hints of things that are worth knowing, and what he may possibly turn to his own advantage, though they are of little use to the owner. The worst kind of pedants among 40 learned men, are such as are naturally endowed with a very small
share of common sense, and have read a great number of books without taste or distinction.
The truth of it is, learning, like travelling, and all other methods of improvement, as it finishes good sense, so it makes a silly man ten thousand times more insufferable, by supplying variety of matter to his impertinence, and giving him an opportunity of abounding in absurdities.
Shallow pedants cry up one another much more than men of solid and useful learning. To read the titles they give an editor, 10 or collator of a manuscript, you would take him for the glory of the commonwealth of letters, and the wonder of his age, when perhaps upon examination you find that he has only rectified a Greek particle, or laid out a whole sentence in proper commas ". They are obliged indeed to be thus lavish of their praises, that they may keep one another in countenance, and it is no wonder if a great deal of knowledge, which is not capable of making a man wise, has a natural tendency to make him vain and arrogant.-L.
No. 106. Sir Roger entertains the Spectator at his country house; the way of life there described.
Having often received an invitation from my friend Sir Roger de 20 Coverley to pass away a month with him in the country, I last week accompanied him thither, and am settled with him for some time at his country-house, where I intend to form several of my ensuing speculations. Sir Roger, who is very well acquainted with my humour, lets me rise and go to bed when I please; dine at his own table or in my chamber as I think fit, sit still and say nothing without bidding me be merry. When the gentlemen of the country come to see him, he only shews me at a distance: as I have been walking in his fields I have observed them stealing a sight of me over an hedge, and have heard the knight desiring 30 them not to let me see them, for that I hated to be stared at.
I am the more at ease in Sir Roger's family, because it consists of sober and staid persons: for as the knight is the best master in the world, he seldom changes his servants; and as he