Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

the Lowndes of the learned world, and cannot think any scheme practicable or rational before you have approved of it, tho' all the money we raise by it is on our own funds, and for our private use.

I have often thought that a News-Letter of Whispers, written every post, and sent about the kingdom, after the same manner as that of Mr. Dyer, Mr. Dawkes. or any other epistolary historian, might be highly gratifying to the public,J^s well as benesicial to the author. By whispers I mean those pieces of news which are communicatetfas secrets, and which bring a double pleasure to the hearer; sirst, as they are private history, and in the next place, as they have always in them a dash of scandal. These are the two chief qualisications in an article of news, which recommend it, in a more than ordinary manner, to the ears of the curious. Sickness of persons in high posts, twilight visits paid and received by ministers of state, clandestine courtships and marriages, secret amours, losses at play, applications for places," with their respective successes or repulses, are the materials in which I chiefly intend to deal. I have two persons, that are each of them the representative of a species, who are to furnish me with those whispers which I intend to convey to my correspondents. _ The sirst of these is Peter Hujh, descended from the ancient family of the Hujhes: The other is the old Lady Blast, who has a very numerous tribe of daughters in the two great cities of London and Westminster. Peter Hust? has a whispering hole in most of the great coffee-houses about town. If you are alone with him in a wide room, he carries you up into a corner of it, and speaks it in your ear. I have seen Pettr seat himself in a company of seven or eight persons, whom he never sew before in his life; and after having looked about to fee there was no one that over-heard him, has communicated to them in a low voice, and under the seal of secrecy, the death of a great man in the country, who was perhaps a fox-hunting the very moment this account was given of him. If upon your entring into a coffee-house you see a circle of heads bending over the table, and lying close to one another, it is ten to «ne but my friend Peter is among them, I have known 2 Pettr

Peter publishing the whisper of the day by eight o'clock in the morning at Garraway's, by twelve at Will's, and before two at the Smyrna. When Peter has thus effectually lanched a secret, I have been very well pleased to hear people whispering it to one another at second hand, and spreading it about as their own; for you must know, Sir, the great incentive to whispering is the ambition which every one has of being thought in the secret, and being looked upon as'a man who has access to greater people than one would imagine. After having given you this account of Peter Hujh, I proceed to that virtuous Lady, the old Lady Blast, who is to communicate to me the private transactions of the crimp table, with all the Arcana of the fair sex. The Lady Blast, you must understand, has such a particular malignity in her whisper, that it blights like an easterly wind, and withers every reputation that it breathes upon. She has a particular knack at making private weddings, and last winter married above sive women of quality to their footnien. Her whisper can make an innocent young woman big with child, or sill an healthful young fellow with distempers that are not to be named. She can turn a visit into an intrigue, and a distant salute into an assignation. She can beggar the wealthy, and degrade the noble. In short, ihe can whisper men base or ioolish, jealous or ill-natur'd, or, if occasion requires, can tell you the flips of their great grandmothers, and traduce the memory of honest coachmen that have been in their graves above these hundred years. By these and the like helps, I question not but I shall furnish out a very handfom news letter. If you approve my project, I shall begin to whisper by the very next post, and question not but every one of my customers will be very well pleased with me, when he considers that every piece of news I fend him is a word in his ear, and lets him into a secret.

Having given you a sketch of this project, I shall, in the next place, suggest to you another for a monthly pamphlet, which I shall likewise submit to your Spectatorial wisdom. I need not tell you, Sir, that there are several authors in France, Germany, and Holland, as well as in our own country, who publish every month, what

Vol. VI. L they they call An Account of the Works of the Learned, in which they give us an abstract of all such books as are printed in any part oi Europe. Now, Sir, it is my design to publish every month, An Account of the Works of the Unlearned. Several late productions of my own countrymen, who many of them make a very eminent sigure in the ill terate world, encourage me in this undertaking. I may, in this work, possibly make a review of several pieces which have appeared in the foreign ac~ counts above-mentioned, tho' they ought not to have been taken notice of in works which bear such a title. I may, likewise, take into consideration such pieces as appear, from time to time, under the names of those gentlemen who compliment one another in public assemblies, by the title of 'be Learned Gmtiemen. Our party-authors will also afford me a great variety of subjects, not to mention the editors, commentators, and others, who are often men of no learning, or what is as bad, of no knowledge I shall not enlarge upon this hint; but if you think any thing can be made of i^ I shall set about it with all the pains and application that so useful a work deserves.

/ am ever,

C Most worthy SIR, &C.

No 4; 8 Friday, August 15.

"Aiia{ ux ayd^n Hes. — Pudor mains ■ Hor.

False modesty.

ICould not but smile at the account that was yesterday given me of a modest young gentleman, who being invited to an entertainment, though he was not ,u'sd to drink, had not the considence to refuse his glass in his 1 urn, when on a sudden he grew so flustered that he took all the talk of the table into his own hands, abused every one of the company, and flung a bottle at the gentleman's head who treated him. This has given me occasion to reflect upon the ill effects of a vicious modesty, and to remember the saying of Brut us, as it is quoted by Plutarch, that the perjon has had but an ill education, viho has not been taught to deny any thing, This false kind of modesty has, perhaps, betrayed both sexes into as many vices as the most abandoned impudence, and is the more inexcusable to reason, because it acts to gratify others rather than itself, and is punished with a kind of remorse, not only like other vicious habits when the crime is over, but even at the very time that it is committed.

Nothing is more admirable than true modesty, and nothing is more contemptible than the false. The one guards virtue, the other betrays it. True modesty is ashamed to do any thing that is repugnant to the rules of right reason: False modesty is ashamed to do any thing that is opposite to the humour of the company. True modesty avoids every thing that is criminal, false modesty every thing that is unsashionable. The latter is only a general undetermined instinct; the former is that instinct, limited and circumscribed by the rules of prudence and religion.

We may conclude that modesty to be false and vicious which engages a man to do any thing that is ill or indiscreet, or which restrains him from doing any thing that is of a contrary nature. How many men, in the common concerns of life, lend sums of money which they are not able to spare, are bound for persons whom they have but little friendship for, give recommendatory characters of men whom they are not acquainted with, bestow places on those whom they do not elleem, live in such a manner as they themselves do not approve, and all this merely because they have not the coniidence to resist solicitation, importunity or example f

Nor does this false modesty expose us only to such actions as are indiscreet, but very often to such as are highly criminal. When Xenophanes was called timorous, because he would not venture his money in a game at 4ice: / confejs, said he, that I am exceeding timorous sor L 2 Jdu .e / dare not do any ill thing. On the contrary, a man of vicious modesty complies with every thing, and is only fearful of doing what may look singular in the company where he is engaged. He falls in with the torrent, and lets himself go to every action or discourse, however unjustissiable in itself, so it be in vogue among the present party. This, tho' one of the most common, is one of the most ridiculous dispositions in human nature, that men should not be ashamed of speaking or acting in a dissolute or irrational manner, but that one who is in their company should be ashamed of governing himself by the principles of reason and virtue.

In the second place we are to consider false modesty, as it restrains a man from doing what is good and laudable. My reader's own thoughts will suggest to him many instances and examples under this head. 1 shall only dwell upon one reflexion, which I cannot make without a secret concern. We have in England a particular bashfulness in every thing that regards religion. A well bred man is obliged to conceal any serious sentiment of this nature, and very often to appear a greater libertine than he is, that he may keep himself in countenance among the men of mode. Our excess of modesty makes us shamefaced, in all the exercises ospiety and devotion. This humour prevails upon us daily ; insomuch, that at many well-bred tables, the master of the house is so very modest a man, that he has not the considence to fay grace at his own table: A custom which is not only practised by all the nations about us, but was never omitted by the heathens themselves. Englijh gentlemen who travel into romancatholic countries, are not a little surprised to meet with people of the bestquality kneeling in their churches, and engaged in their private devotions, tho' it be not at the hours of public worship. An officer of the army, or a man of wit and pleasure in those countries, would be afraid of passing not only for an irreligious, but an ill-bred man, should he be seen to go to bed, or sit down at table without offering up his devotions on such occasions. The fame show of religion appears in all the foreign reformed churches, and enters so much in their ordinary conversation, that an Englijhman is apt to term them hypocritical and precise.

« ZurückWeiter »