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There cannot be a greater instance of the power of action than in little parson Dapper, * who is the common relief to all the lazy pulpits in town. This smart youth has a very good memory, a quick eye, and a clean handkerchief. Thus equipped, he opens his text, shuts his book fairly, shows he has no notes in his bible, opens both palms, and shows all is fair there too. Thus, with a decisive air, my young man goes on without hesitation; and though from the beginning to the end of his pretty discourse, he has not used one proper gesture, yet, at the conclusion, the churchwarden pulls his gloves from off his hands; “ Pray, who is this extraordinary young man?” Thus the force of action is such, that it is more prevalent, even when improper, than all the reason and argument in the world without it. This gentleman concluded his discourse by saying, “I do not doubt but if our preachers would learn to speak, and our readers to read, within six months time we should not have a dissenter within a mile of a church in Great Britain."
Supposed to be Dr Joseph Trapp, of whom Swift speaks with contempt in his Journal
THE TATLER, No. LXVII.
TUESDAY, SEPT. 13, 1709.
From my own apartments, Sept. 12. My
y province is much larger than at first sight men would imagine, and I shall lose no part of my jurisdiction, which extends not only to futurity, but also is retrospect to things past; and the behaviour of persons, who have long ago acted their parts, is as much liable to my examination, as that of my own contemporaries.
In order to put the whole race of mankind in their proper distinctions, according to the opinion their cohabitants conceived of them, I have with very much care, and depth of meditation, thought fit to erect a chamber of Fame; and established certain rules, which are to be observed in admitting members into this illustrious society.
In this chamber of Fame there are to be three tables, but of different lengths; the first is to contain exactly twelve persons; the second, twenty; and the third, a hundred. This is reckoned to be the full number of those who have any competent share of fame. At the first of these tables are to be placed, in their order, the twelve most famous persons in the world; not with regard to the things they are famous for, but according to the degree of their fame, whether in valour, wit, or learning. Thus, if a scholar be more famous than a soldier, he is to sit above him. Neither must any preference be given to virtue, if the person be not equally famous.
When the first table is filled, the next in renown must be seated at the second, and so on in like manner to the number of twenty; as also in the same order at the third, which is to hold a hundred. At these tables no regard is to be had to seniority: for if Julius Cæsar shall be judged more famous than Romulus and Scipio, he must have the precedence. No person who has not been dead a hundred years, must be offered to a place at any of these tables: and because this is altogether a lay society, and that sacred persons move upon greater motives than that of fame, no persons celebrated in holy writ, or any ecclesiastical man whatsoever, are to be introduced here.
At the lower end of the room is to be a sidetable for persons of great fame, but dubious existence; such as Hercules, Theseus, Æneas, Achilles, Hector, and others. But because it is apprehended, that there may be great contention about precedence, the proposer humbly desires the opinion of the learned, toward his assistance in placing every person according to his rank, that none may have just occasion of offence. The merits of the cause shall be judged by plurality of voices.
For the more impartial execution of this important affair, it is desired, that no man will offer his favourite hero, scholar, or poet; and that the learned will be pleased to send to Mr Bickerstaff, at Mr Morphew's, near Stationers' Hall, their several lists for the first table only, and in the order they would have them placed; after which, the proposer will compare the several lists, and make another for the public, wherein every name shall be ranked according to the voices it has had. Under this chamber is to be a dark vault, for the same number of persons of evil fame.
It is humbly submitted to consideration, whether the project would not be better, if the persons of true fame meet in a middle room, those of dubious existence in an upper room, and those of evil fame in a lower dark room.
It is to be noted, that no historians are to be admitted at any of these tables; because they are appointed to conduct the several persons to their seats, and are to be made use of as ushers to the assemblies.
I call upon the learned world to send me their assistance toward this design, it being a matter of too great moment for any one person to determine. But I do assure them, their lists shall be examined with great fidelity, and those that are exposed to the public, made with all the caution imaginable.
THE TATLER, No. LXVIII.
THURSDAY, SEPT. 15, 1709.
The progress of our endeavours will of necessity be very much interrupted, except the learned world will please to send their lists to the chamber of Fame with all expedition. There is nothing can so much contribute to create a noble emulation in our youth, as the honourable mention of such whose actions have outlived the injuries of time, and recommended themselves so far to the world, that it is become learning to know the least circumstance of their affairs. It is a great incentive to see, that some men have raised themselves so highly above their fellow-creatures, that the lives of ordinary men are spent in inquiries after
the particular actions of the most illustrious. True it is, that without this impulse to fame and reputation, our industry would stagnate, and that lively desire of pleasing each other die away. This opinion was so established in the heathen world, that their sense of living appeared insipid, except their being was enlivened with a consciousness that they were esteemed by the rest of the world.
Upon examining the proportion of men's fame for my table of twelve, I thought it no ill way (since I had laid it down for a rule, that they were to be ranked simply as they were famous, without regard to their virtue) to ask my sister Jenny's