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N° 521. TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 1712.
Vera redit facies, dissimulata perit.
The real face returns, the counterfeit is lost.
• Mr. SPECTATOR,
'I have been for many years loud in this assertion, that there are very few that can see or hear; I mean, that can report what they have seen or heard: and this through incapacity or prejudice, one of which disables almost every man who talks to you from representing things as he ought. For which reason I am come to a resolution of believ: ing nothing I hear; and I contemn the man given to narrations under the appellation of“ a matter-offact man:” and, according to me, a matter-of-fact man is one whose life and conversation is spent in the report of what is not matter of fact.
. I remember when prince Eugene was here, there was no knowing his height of figure, until you, Mr. Spectator, gave the public satisfaction in that matter. In relations the force of the expression lies very often more in the look, the tone of voice, or the gesture, than the words themselves; which, being repeated in any other manner by the undiscerning, bear a very different interpretation from their original meaning. I must confess I formerly have turned this humour of mine to very good account; for whenever I heard any narration uttered with extraordinary vehemence, and grounded upon considerable authority, I was always ready to lay any wa. ger that it was not so. Indeed I never pretended to be so rash as to fix the matter any particular way in opposition to theirs; but, as there are a hundred ways of any thing happening, besides that it has happened, I only controverted its falling out in that one manner as they settled it, and left it to the ninetynine other ways, and consequently had more probability of success. I had arrived at a particular skill in warming a man so far in his narration, as to make him throw in a little of the marvellous, and then, if he has much fire, the next degree is the impossible. Now this is always the time for fixing the wager. But this requires the nicest managenieat, otherwise very probably the dispute may arise to the old determination by battle. In these conceits I have been very fortunate, and have won some wagers of those who have professedly valued themselves upon intelligence, and have put themselves to the great charge and expence to be misinformed considerably sooner than the rest of the world.
Having got a comfortable sum by this my opposition to public report, I have brought myself now to so great a perfection in inattention, more especially to party-relations, that, at the same time I seem with greedy ears to devour up the discourse, I certainly do not know one word of it, but pursue my own course of thought, whether upon business or amusement, with much tranquillity; I say inattention, because a late act of parliament* has secured all party-liars from the penalty of a wager, and consequently made it unprofitable to attend to them. However, good-breeding obliges a man to maintain the figure of the keenest attention, the true posture of which in a coffee-house
* Stat. 7 Anne, cap. 17. By it all wagers laid upon a contingency relating to the war with France were declared to be roid.
I take to consist in leaning over a table with the edge of it pressing hard upon your stomach: for the more pain the narration is received with, the more gracious is your bending over; besides that the narrator thinks you forget your pain by the pleasure of hearing him.
• Fort Knock has occasioned several very perplexed and inelegant heats and animosities; and there was ove the other day, in a coffee-house where I was, that took upon him to clear that business to me, for he said he was there. I knew him to be that sort of man that had not strength of capacity to be informed of any thing that depended merely upon his being an eye-witness, and therefore was fully batisfied he could give me no information, for the very same reason he believed he could, for he was there. However, I heard him with the same greediness as Shakespeare describes in the following lines :
“ I saw a smith stand on his hammer, thus,
With open mouth, swallowing a taylor's news."
I confess of late I have not been so much amazed at the declaimers in coffee-houses as I formerly was, being satisfied that they expect to be rewarded for their vociferations. Of these liars there are two sorts: the genius of the first consists in much impudence, and a strong memory; the others have added to these qualifications a good understanding and smooth language. These therefore have only certain heads, which they are as eloquent upon as they can, and may be called “ embellishers;" the others repeat only what they hear from others as literally as their parts or zeal will permit, and are called citers.” Here was a fellow in town some years ago, who used to diverthimself by telling a lie at Charing. cross in the morning at eight of the clock, and following it through all parts of the town until eight at night; at which time he came to a club of his friends, and diverted them with an account what censure it had at Will's in Covent-garden, how dangerous it was believed to be at Child's, and what inference they drew from it with relation to stocks at Jonathan's. I have had the honour to travel with this gentleman I speak of in search of one of his falsehoods; and have been present when they have described the very man they have spoken to, as him who first reported it, tall or short, black or fair, a gentleman or a raggamuffin, according as they liked the intelligence. I have heard one of our ingeinious writers of news say, that, when he has had a customer with an advertisement of an apprent ce or a wife run away, he has desired the advertiser to compose himself a little before he dictated the description of the offender: for when a person is put in a public paper by a man who is angry with him, the real description of such person is hid in the deformity with which the angry man describes him; therefore this fellow always made his customers describe him as he would the day before he offended, or else he was sure he would never find him out. These and inany other hints I could suggest to you for the elucidation of all fictions; but I leave it to your own sagacity to improve or neglect this speculation
N°599. WEDNESDAY, OCT. 29, 1712.
-Adjuro nunquam eam me deferturum;
TER. Andr. Act. iv. Sc. 2.
I swear never to forsake her; no, though I were sure to make
all men my enemies. Her I desired; her I have obtained; our humours agree. Perish all those who would separate us! Death alone shall deprive me of her.
I SHOULD esteem myself a very happy man if my speculation could in the least contribute to the rectifying the conduct of my readers in one of the most important affairs of life, to wit, their choice in marriage. This state is the foundation of community, and the chief band of society; and I do not think I can be tou frequent on subjects which may givelight to my unmarried readers in a particular which is so essential to their following happiness or misery. A virtuous disposition, a goud understanding, an agreeable person, and an easy fortune, are the things which should be chiefly regarded on this occasion. Because my present view is to direct a young lady, who I think is now in doubt whom to take of many lovers, I shall talk at this time to my female readers. The advantages, as I was going to say, of sense, beauty, and riches, are what are certainly the chief motives to a prudent young woman of fortune for changing her condition; but, as she is to have her eye upon each of these, she is to ask herself, whether the man who has most of these recommenda