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(says he) we ought, according to the natural situation of our bodies, to walk upon our hands and feet; and that the wisdom of the ancients had described man to be an animal of four legs in the morning, two at noon, and three at night; by which they intimated, that a cane might very properly become part of us in some period of life.' Upon which I asked him, whether he wore it at his breast to have it in readiness when that period should arrive?' My young lawyer immediately told me, he had a property in it, and a right to hang it where he pleased, and to make use of it as he thought fit, provided that he did not break the peace with it: and further said, that he never took it off his button, unless it were to lift it up at a coachman, hold it over the head of a drawer, point out the circumstances of a story, or for other services of the like nature, that are all within the laws of the land. I did not care for discouraging a young man, who, I saw, would come to good, and because his heart was set upon his new purchase, I only ordered him to wear it about his neck, instead of hanging it upon his button, and so dismissed him."
There were several appeared in court, whose pretensions I found to be very good, and therefore gave many their licences upon paying their fees; as many others had their licences renewed, who required more time for recovery of their lameness than I had before allowed them.
Having dispatched this set of my petitioners, there came in a well-dressed man, with a glass-tube in one hand, and his petition in the other. Upon his entering the room, he threw back the right side of his wig, put forward his right leg, and advancing the glass to his right eye, aimed it directly at me. In the mean while, to make my observations also, I put on my spectacles ; in which posture we surveyed each other for some time. Upon the removal of our glasses, I desired him to read
• Thus far, chiefly, or only, Mr. Addison. What follows, to the end, Sir Richard Steele's.
his petition, which he did very promptly and easily : though at the same time it set forth, that he could see nothing distinctly, and was within very few degrees of being utterly blind; concluding with a prayer, that he might be permitted to strengthen and extend his sight by a glass. In answer to this, I told him, he might sometimes extend it to his own destruction. are now (said I) you are out of the reach of beauty; the shafts of the finest eyes lose their force before they can come at you; you cannot distinguish a toast from an orange-wench; you can see a whole circle of beauty without any interruption from an impertinent face discompose you. In short, what are snares for others'My petitioner would hear no more, but told me very seriously, Mr. Bickerstaffe, you quite mistake your man; it is the joy, the pleasure, the employment of my life, to frequent public assemblies, and gaze upon the fair.' In a word, I found his use of a glass was occasioned by no other infirmity but his vanity, and was not so much designed to make him see, as to make him be seen and distinguished by others. I therefore refused him a licence for a perspective, but allowed him a pair of spectacles, with full permission to use them in any public assembly as he should think fit. He was followed by so very few of this order of men, that I have reason to hope this sort of cheats are almost at an end.
The orange-flower-men appeared next with petitions, perfumed so strongly with musk, that I was almost overcome with the scent; and for my own sake, was obliged forthwith to licence their handkerchiefs, especially when I found they had sweetened them at Charles Lillie's, and that some of their persons would not be altogether inoffensive without them. John Morphew, whom I have made the general of my dead men, acquainted me, that the petitioners were all of that order, and could produce certificates to prove it if I required it. I was so well pleased with this way of their embalming themselves, that I commanded the abovesaid Morphew to give it in orders to his whole army, that every one who did not surrender himself up to be disposed of by the upholders, should use the same method to keep himself sweet during his present state of
I finished my session with great content of mind, reflecting upon the good I had done; for however slightly men may regard these particularities and little follies in dress and behaviour, they lead to greater evils. The bearing to be laughed at for such singularities, teaches us insensibly an impertinent fortitude, and enables us to bear public censure for things which more substantially deserve it. By this means they open a gate to folly, and oftentimes render a man so ridiculous, as discredit his virtues and capacities, and unqualify them from doing any good in the world. Besides, the giving into uncommon habits of this nature, is a want of that humble deference which is due to mankind; and (what is worst of all) the certain indication of some secret flaw in the mind of the person that commits them. When I was a young man, I remember a gentleman of great integrity and worth was very remarkable for wearing a broad belt, and a hanger instead of a fashionable sword, though in all other points a very well-bred man. I suspected him at first sight to have something wrong in him, but was not able for a long while to discover any collateral proofs of it. I watched him narrowly for six and thirty years, when at last, to the surprise of every body but myself, who had long expected to see the folly break out, he married his own cook-maid
Sir Richard Steele joined in this paper. T.
No. 108. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 17, 1709.
Pronaque cum spectant animalia cætera terram,
Sheer-Lane, December 16. It is not to be imagined, how great an effect well-disposed lights, with proper forms and orders in assemblies, have upon some tempers. I am sure I feel it in so extraordinary a manner, that I cannot in a day or two get out of my imagination any very beautiful or disagreeable impression which I receive on such occasions. For this reason, I frequently look in at the play-house, in order to enlarge my thoughts, and warm my mind with some new ideas, that may be serviceable to me in my lucubrations.
In this disposition I entered the theatre the other day, and placed myself in a corner of it, very convenient for seeing, without being myself observed. I found the audience hushed in a very deep attention, and did not question but some noble tragedy was just then in its crisis, or that an incident was to be unravelled which would determine the fate of an hero. While I was in this suspence, expecting every moment to see my friend Mr. Betterton appear in all the majesty of distress, to my unspeakable amazement, there came up a monster with a face between his feet; and as I was looking on, he raised himself on one leg in such a perpendicular posture, that the other grew in a direct line above his head. It afterwards twisted itself into the motions and wreathings of several different animals, and after great variety of shapes and transformations, went off the stage in the figure of an human creature. The admiration, the applause, the satisfaction of the audience, during this strange entertainment, is not to be expressed.
was very much out of countenance for my dear countrymen, and looked about with some apprehension for fear any foreigner should be present. Is it possible (thought I) that human nature can rejoice in its disgrace, and take pleasure in seeing its own figure turned to ridicule, and distorted into forms that raise horror and aversion? There is something disingenuous and immoral in the being able to bear such a sight. Men of elegant and noble minds, are shocked at seeing the characters of persons who deserve esteem for their virtue, knowledge, or services to their country, placed in wrong lights, and by misrepresentation made the subject of buffoonery. Such a nice abhorrence is not indeed to be found among the vulgar; but, methinks it is wonderful, that these who have nothing but the outward figure to distinguish them as men, should delight in seeing it abused, vilified, and disgraced.
I must confess, there is nothing that more pleases me, in all that I read in books, or see among mankind, than such passages as represent human nature in its proper dignity. As man is a creature made up of different extremes, he has something in him very great and very mean: a skilful artist may draw an excellent picture of him in either views. The finest authors of antiquity have taken him on the more advantageous side. They cultivate the natural grandeur of the soul, raise in her a generous ambition, feed her with hopes of immortality and perfection, and do all they can to widen the partition between the virtuous and the vicious, by making the difference betwixt them as great as between gods and brutes. In short, it is impossible to read a page in Plato, Tully, and a thousand other ancient moralists, without being a greater and a better man for it. On the contrary, I could never read any of our modish French authors, or those of our own country, who are the imitators and admirers of that trifling nation, without being for some time out of humour with myself, and at every thing about me. Their business is, to depreciate human nature, and consider it under its worst appearances. They give mean interpretations