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ness, in him who shall hereartcr practise it: As on the contrary how every cullom or habit of vice will be the natural he if of him in whom it subsists. C
N° 448 Monday, August 4
Fasdius hoc aliquid quandcque audebis.
Juv. Sat. 2. v. 82.
In time to greater baseness you'll proceed.
THE sirst steps towards ill are very carefully to be avoided, for men insensibly go on when they are once entered, and do not keep up a lively abhorrence of the least unworthiness. There is a certain frivolous fatshood that people indulge themselves in,which ought to fce had in greater detestation than it commonly meets with : What I mean isa neglect of promises made on small and indifferent occasions, such as parties of pleasure, entertainments, and sometimes meetings out of curiosity, in men of like faculties, to be in each other's company. There are many causes to which dne may assign this light insidelity. Jack Sippet never keeps the hour he has appointed to come to a friend's to dinner; but he is an insignisicant fellow who does it out of vanity. He could never, he knows, make any sigure in company, but by giving a little disturbance at his entry, and therefore takes care to drop in when he thinks y« a1e just seated. He takes his place after having discomposed every body, and desires there may be no ceremony; then -dees he begin to call himself the saddest fellow, in disappointing so many places as he was invited to elsewhere. It is the fop's vanity to name houses of better chear, and to acquaint you that he chose yours out of ten dinners which he was obliged to be at-that day. The last time I had the fortune to eat with him, he was imagining how very fat he should have been had he eaten all he had ever been invited to. But it is impertinent to dwell upon the manners of fuen a wretch as
obliges all whom he disappoints, though his circumstances constrain them to be civil to him. But there are those that every one would be glad to see, who fallintothe same detestable habit. It is a merciless thing that any one can be at ease, and suppose a set of people who have a kindness for him, at that moment waiting out of respect to him, and refusing to taste their food or conversation wiih the utmost impatience. One of these promisers sometimes shall make his excuses for not coming at all, so late that half the company have only, to lament, that they have neglected matters of moment to meet him whom they sind a trifler. They immediately repent of the value they had for him; and such treatment repeated, makes company never depend upon, his promises any more; so that he often comes at the middle of a meal, where he is secretly slighted by the persons with whom he eats, and cursed by the servants, whose dinner is delayed by his prolonging their master'sentertainment. It is wonderful, that men guilty this way, could never have observed, that the whiling time,, and gathering together, and waiting a little before dinner, is the most awkwardly passed away of any part in the four and twenty hours. If they did think at all, they would reflect upon their guilt, in lengthning such, a suspension of agreeable life. The constant offending, this way, has, in a degree, an effect upon the honesty of his mind who is guilty of it, as common swearing is; a kind of habitual perjury: It snakes the foul unattentsve to what an oath is, even while it' utters it at the lips. Phocion beriolding a wordy orator, while he was. making a magnisicent speech to the people, full of vain promises; Metbinks, said he, lam now fixing my eyesupon a cypress tree; it has all the pomp and beauty imaginable in its branches, haves and height, but alas it bears M>, fruit.
Though the expectation which is raised by impertinent promises is thus barren, their considence, even after; failures, is so great, that they subsist by still promising, on. 1 have heretofore discoursed of the insignisicant liar, the boaster, and the castle-builder, and treated then* as no ill designing men, (though they are to be placed among the frivolously false ones) but persons who fall into, I 5 that that way purely to recommend themselves by their vivacities; but indeed 1 cannot let heedless promifers, tho* in the most minute circumstances, pass with so flight a ceniure. If a man should take a resolution to pay only sums above an hundred pounds, and yet contract with disferent people debts of sive and ten, how long can we suppole he will keep his credit ? This man will as long support his good name in business, as he will in conversation, who without difsiculty makes assignations which he is indifferent whether he keeps or not.
I am the more severe upon this vice, because I have been so unsortunate as to be a very great Ciiminal myself. SirAHDrEW FREEroRt, and all my other friend & who are scrupulous to promises of the meanest consideration imaginable, from an habit of virtue that way, have often upbraided me with it. I take shame upon myself for this crime, and more particularly for the greatest I ever committed of the fort, that When as agreeable a company of gentlemen, and ladies as ever were got together, and 1 forsooth, Mr. Spectator, to be of the party with women of merit, like a booby as I was, mistook the time of meeting, and came the night following. I wish every fool who is negligent in this kind, may have as great a loss as I had in this; for the fame company will never meet more, but are dispersed into various parts of the world, and 1 am left under the compunction that I deserve, in so many different places to be called a trifler.
This fault is sometimes to be accounted for, when desirable people are fearful of appearing precise and reserved by denials; but they will sind the apprehension ©f that imputation will betray them into a childish impotence of mind, and make them promise all who are so kind to ask it of ihem. This leads such soft creatures into the misfortune of seeming to return overtures of good-will with ingratitude. The sir;i steps in the breach ©fa man's integrity are muuh morelmportant than men are aware of. The man who scruples breaking his word in little things would not suffer in his own conscience so great pain for failures of consequence, as he who tf.inks every little essence against truth ano justice a ciiparagement. We should r.ot make any thing we ourselves
selves disapprove habitual to us, if we would be sure of our integrity.
I remember a salshood of the trivial sort, tho' not in relation to afijgnations, that exposed a man to a very uneasy adventure. Will Trap and Jack Stint were chamber-fellows in the Inner-Temple about 25 years ago. They one night fat in the pit .together at a comedy, where they both observed and liked the same young woman in the boxes. Their kindness for her entered both hearts deeper than they imagined. Stint had a good faculty in writing letters of love, and made his address privately that way; while Trap proceeded in the ordinary course, by money and her waiting-maid. The lady gave them both encouragement, receiving Trap into the utmost favour, and answering at the same time Stint's letters, and giving him appointments at third places. Trap began to suspect the epistolary correspondence of his friend, and discovered also that Stint opened all his letters which ca.ne to their common lodgings, in order to form his own assignations. After much anxiety and relllessnefs Trap came to a resolution, which he thought would break off their commerce with one another without any hazardous explanation. He therefore writ a letter in a feigned hand to Mr. Trap at his chambers in the Temple. Stint, according to custom, seized and opened it, and was not a little surpriz'd to sind the inside directed to himself, when, with great perturbation of spirit, he read as follows.
'"KT O U have gained a slight satisfaction at the eX'J pcriceof doing a very heinous crime. At the price
* of a faithful friend you have obtained an inconstant
* mistress. I rejoice in this expedient I have thought of 'to breek my mind to you, and tell you, you are a base
* fellow, by a means which does not expose you to the
* affront except you deserve it. T know, Sir, ascrimi'nal as you are, you have still shame enough to avenge
* yourself against the hardiness of any one that Ihould
* publrcly tell you- of it. 1 therefore, who have received 'so many secret hurts from you, shall take satisfac
* tion with safety to myself, i call you base, and you
« must 'mud bear it, or acknowledge it; I triumph over you 'that you cannot come at me; nor do I think, it dishonourable to come in armour to assault him, who was in ambuscade when he wounded me. « * What need more be said to convince you of being guilty of the; basest practice imaginable, than that it is
* such as has niade you liable to be treated after this
* manner, while you yourse.f cannot in your own con
* science but allow the justice of the upbraidings of
Your injuredfriend, T . . W. Trap,
N? 449 Tuesday, August 5.
Tibiscriptus, matroxa, Jilellut. Mart. A book the chastest matron may peruse.
WHEN I reflect upon my labours for the public, 1 cajinot but observe, that part of the species, of which I profess myself a friend and guardian, is sometimes treated with severity; that is, there are in my writings many descriptions given of ill persons, and not any direct encomium made of those who are good. When I was convinced of this error, I could not but immediately call to mind several of the fair sex of my acquaintance,, whose charact; rs deserve to be transmitted to posterity in writings which will long outlive mine. But I do not think that a reason why I shoubd not give them their place in my diurnal as long as it will last. For the service therefore of my female readers, I shall single out some characters of maids, wives, and widows, which deserve the imitation of the sex. She who shall lead this.small illustrious number of heroines shall be the amiable Fidelia.
-Before I enter upon the particular parts of her character, it is neceslary to preface, that She is the only child of a decrepid father, whose life is bound up in