Isaac Bickerstaff
Richard Steele

Part 1 out of 3

Isaac Bickerstaff, Physician and Astrologer
by Richard Steele.
Papers from Steele's "Tatler."

Introduction by Henry Morley.

Of the relations between Steele and Addison, and the origin of
Steele's "Tatler," which was developed afterwards into the
"Spectator," account has already been given in the introduction to a
volume of this Library, * containing essays from the "Spectator"--
"Sir Roger de Coverley and the Spectator Club." There had been a
centre of life in the "Tatler," designed, as Sir Roger and his
friends were designed, to carry the human interest of a distinct
personality through the whole series of papers. The "Tatler's"
personality was Isaac Bickerstaff, Physician and Astrologer; as to
years, just over the grand climacteric, sixty-three, mystical
multiple of nine and seven; dispensing counsel from his lodgings at
Shire Lane, and seeking occasional rest in the vacuity of thought
proper to his club at the "Trumpet."

The name of Isaac Bickerstaff Steele borrowed from his friend Swift,
who, just before the establishment of the "Tatler," had borrowed it
from a shoemaker's shop-board, and used it as the name of an
imagined astrologer, who should be an astrologer indeed, and should
attack John Partridge, the chief of the astrological almanack
makers, with a definite prediction of the day and hour of his death.
This he did in a pamphlet that brought up to the war against one
stronghold of superstition an effective battery of satire. The
pamphlet itself has been given in our volume of "The Battle of the
Books, and other short pieces, by Jonathan Swift." * The joke once
set rolling was kept up in other playful little pamphlets written to
announce the fulfilment of the prophecy, and to explain to Partridge
that, whether he knew it or not, he was dead. This joke was running
through the town when Steele began his "Tatler" on the 12th of
April, 1709. Steele kept it going, and, in doing so, wrote once or
twice in the character of Bickerstaff. Then he proceeded to develop
the astrologer into a central character, who should give life and
unity to his whole series of essays.

They were published for a penny a number, at the rate of three
numbers a week. Steele, for his threepence a week, sought to give
wholesome pleasure while good-humouredly helping men to rise above
the vices and the follies of their time. Evil ways of the court of
Charles the Second still survived in empty tradition. The young man
thought it polite to set up for an atheist, said Steele, though it
could be proved on him that every night he said his prayers. It was
fashionable to speak frivolously of women, and affect contempt of
marriage, though the English were, and are, of all men the most
domestic. Steele made it a part of his duty to break this evil
custom, to uphold the true honour of womanhood, and assert the
sacredness of home. The two papers in this collection, called
"Happy Marriage" and "A Wife Dead," are beautiful examples of his
work in this direction. He attacked the false notions of honour
that kept duelling in fashion. Steele could put his heart into the
direct telling of a tale of human love or sorrow, and in that
respect was unapproached by Addison; but he was surpassed by Addison
in a subtle delicacy of touch, in the fine humour with which he
played about the whims and weaknesses of men. The tenth paper in
this volume, "A Business Meeting," is a good example of what Addison
could do in that way.

Of the papers in this volume, the first was sent to Steele by the
post, and--Steele wrote in the original Preface to the completed
"Tatler"--"written, as I since understand, by Mr. Twisdon, who died
at the battle of Mons, and has a monument in Westminster Abbey,
suitable to the respect which is due to his wit and valour." The
other papers were all written by Steele, with these exceptions:--No.
V., "Marriage of Sister Jenny," and No. VII., "The Dream of Fame,"
were described by Steele, in a list given to Tickell, as written by
himself and Addison together. No. XIV., "The Wife Dead," is
Steele's, with some passages to which Addison contributed. No.
XIII., "Dead Folks," was, the first part, by Addison; the second
part, beginning "From my own Apartment, November 25," by Steele;
Addison wrote No. X., "A Business Meeting," No. XVI., "A very Pretty
Poet," and No. XX., "False Doctoring." Addison joined Steele in the
record of cases before "Bickerstaff, Censor," No. XVIII. Of the
twenty-six sections in this volume, therefore, three are by Addison
alone; one is in two parts, written severally by Addison and Steele;
four are by Addison and Steele working in friendly fellowship, and
without trace of their separate shares in the work; eighteen are by
Steele alone.

* Cassell's National Library.



From my own Apartment, May, 4, 17O9.

Of all the vanities under the sun, I confess that of being proud of
one's birth is the greatest. At the same time, since in this
unreasonable age, by the force of prevailing custom, things in which
men have no hand are imputed to them; and that I am used by some
people as if Isaac Bickerstaff, though I write myself Esquire, was
nobody: to set the world right in that particular, I shall give you
my genealogy, as a kinsman of ours has sent it me from the Heralds'
Office. It is certain, and observed by the wisest writers, that
there are women who are not nicely chaste, and men not severely
honest, in all families; therefore let those who may be apt to raise
aspersions upon ours please to give us as impartial an account of
their own, and we shall be satisfied. The business of heralds is a
matter of so great nicety that, to avoid mistakes, I shall give you
my cousin's letter, verbatim, without altering a syllable.

"Since you have been pleased to make yourself so famous of late
by your ingenious writings, and some time ago by your learned
predictions; since Partridge, of immortal memory, is dead and gone,
who, poetical as he was, could not understand his own poetry; and,
philomathical as he was, could not read his own destiny; since the
Pope, the King of France, and great part of his court, are either
literally or metaphorically defunct: since, I say, these things not
foretold by any one but yourself have come to pass after so
surprising a manner: it is with no small concern I see the original
of the Staffian race so little known in the world as it is at this
time; for which reason, as you have employed your studies in
astronomy and the occult sciences, so I, my mother being a Welsh
woman, dedicated mine to genealogy, particularly that of our family,
which, for its antiquity and number, may challenge any in Great
Britain. The Staffs are originally of Staffordshire, which took its
name from them; the first that I find of the Staffs was one
Jacobstaff, a famous and renowned astronomer, who, by Dorothy his
wife, had issue seven sons--viz., Bickerstaff, Longstaff, Wagstaff,
Quarterstaff, Whitestaff, Falstaff, and Tipstaff. He also had a
younger brother, who was twice married, and had five sons--viz.,
Distaff, Pikestaff, Mopstaff, Broomstaff, and Raggedstaff. As for
the branch from whence you spring, I shall say very little of it,
only that it is the chief of the Staffs, and called Bickerstaff,
quasi Biggerstaff; as much as to say, the Great Staff, or Staff of
Staffs; and that it has applied itself to Astronomy with great
success, after the example of our aforesaid forefather. The
descendants from Longstaff, the second son, were a rakish,
disorderly sort of people, and rambled from one place to another,
till, in the time of Harry the Second, they settled in Kent, and
were called Long-Tails, from the long tails which were sent them as
a punishment for the murder of Thomas-a-Becket, as the legends say.
They have been always sought after by the ladies, but whether it be
to show their aversion to popery, or their love to miracles, I
cannot say. The Wagstaffs are a merry, thoughtless sort of people,
who have always been opinionated of their own wit; they have turned
themselves mostly to poetry. This is the most numerous branch of
our family, and the poorest. The Quarterstaffs are most of them
prize-fighters or deer-stealers; there have been so many of them
hanged lately that there are very few of that branch of our family
left. The Whitestaffs are all courtiers, and have had very
considerable places. There have been some of them of that strength
and dexterity that five hundred of the ablest men in the kingdom
have often tugged in vain to pull a staff out of their hands. The
Falstaffs are strangely given to drinking: there are abundance of
them in and about London. And one thing is very remarkable of this
branch, and that is, there are just as many women as men in it.
There was a wicked stick of wood of this name in Harry the Fourth's
time, one Sir John Falstaff. As for Tipstaff, the youngest son, he
was an honest fellow; but his sons, and his sons' sons, have all of
them been the veriest rogues living; it is this unlucky branch has
stocked the nation with that swarm of lawyers, attorneys, serjeants,
and bailiffs, with which the nation is overrun. Tipstaff, being a
seventh son, used to cure the king's evil; but his rascally
descendants are so far from having that healing quality that, by a
touch upon the shoulder, they give a man such an ill habit of body
that he can never come abroad afterwards. This is all I know of the
line of Jacobstaff; his younger brother, Isaacstaff, as I told you
before, had five sons, and was married twice; his first wife was a
Staff, for they did not stand upon false heraldry in those days, by
whom he had one son, who, in process of time, being a schoolmaster
and well read in the Greek, called himself Distaff or Twicestaff.
He was not very rich, so he put his children out to trades, and the
Distaffs have ever since been employed in the woollen and linen
manufactures, except myself, who am a genealogist. Pikestaff, the
eldest son by the second venter, was a man of business, a downright
plodding fellow, and withal so plain, that he became a proverb.
Most of this family are at present in the army. Raggedstaff was an
unlucky boy, and used to tear his clothes in getting birds' nests,
and was always playing with a tame bear his father kept. Mopstaff
fell in love with one of his father's maids, and used to help her to
clean the house. Broomstaff was a chimney-sweeper. The Mopstaffs
and Broomstaffs are naturally as civil people as ever went out of
doors; but, alas! if they once get into ill hands, they knock down
all before them. Pilgrimstaff ran away from his friends, and went
strolling about the country; and Pipestaff was a wine-cooper. These
two were the unlawful issue of Longstaff.

"N.B.--The Canes, the Clubs, the Cudgels, the Wands, the Devil upon
two Sticks, and one Bread, that goes by the name of Staff of Life,
are none of our relations. I am, dear Cousin,
"Your humble servant,

"From the Heralds' Office,
"May 1, 17O9."


From my own Apartment, May 8.

Much hurry and business have to-day perplexed me into a mood too
thoughtful for going into company; for which reason, instead of the
tavern, I went into Lincoln's Inn walks; and having taken a round or
two, I sat down, according to the allowed familiarity of these
places, on a bench; at the other end of which sat a venerable
gentleman, who, speaking with a very affable air, "Mr.
Bickerstaff," said he, "I take it for a very great piece of good
fortune that you have found me out." "Sir," said I, "I had never,
that I know of, the honour of seeing you before." "That," replied
he, "is what I have often lamented; but, I assure you, I have for
many years done you good offices, without being observed by you; or
else, when you had any little glimpse of my being concerned in an
affair, you have fled from me, and shunned me like an enemy; but,
however, the part I am to act in the world is such that I am to go
on in doing good, though I meet with never so many repulses, even
from those I oblige." This, thought I, shows a great good nature,
but little judgment, in the persons upon whom he confers his
favours. He immediately took notice to me that he observed, by my
countenance, I thought him indiscreet in his beneficence, and
proceeded to tell me his quality in the following manner: "I know
thee, Isaac, to be so well versed in the occult sciences that I need
not much preface, or make long preparations, to gain your faith that
there are airy beings who are employed in the care and attendance of
men, as nurses are to infants, till they come to an age in which
they can act of themselves. These beings are usually called amongst
men guardian angels; and, Mr. Bickerstaff, I am to acquaint you that
I am to be yours for some time to come; it being our orders to vary
our stations, and sometimes to have one patient under our
protection, and sometimes another, with a power of assuming what
shape we please, to ensnare our wards into their own good. I have
of late been upon such hard duty, and know you have so much work for
me, that I think fit to appear to you face to face, to desire you
will give me as little occasion for vigilance as you can." "Sir,"
said I, "it will be a great instruction to me in my behaviour if you
please to give me some account of your late employments, and what
hardships or satisfactions you have had in them, that I may govern
myself accordingly." He answered, "To give you an example of the
drudgery we go through, I will entertain you only with my three last
stations. I was on the first of April last put to mortify a great
beauty, with whom I was a week; from her I went to a common swearer,
and have been last with a gamester. When I first came to my lady, I
found my great work was to guard well her eyes and ears; but her
flatterers were so numerous, and the house, after the modern way, so
full of looking-glasses, that I seldom had her safe but in her
sleep. Whenever we went abroad, we were surrounded by an army of
enemies; when a well-made man appeared, he was sure to have a
side-glance of observation; if a disagreeable fellow, he had a full
face, out of more inclination to conquests; but at the close of the
evening, on the sixth of the last month, my ward was sitting on a
couch, reading Ovid's epistles; and as she came to this line of
Helen to Paris,

'She half consents who silently denies,'

entered Philander, who is the most skilful of all men in an address
to women. He is arrived at the perfection of that art which gains
them; which is, 'to talk like a very miserable man, but look like a
very happy one.' I saw Dictinna blush at his entrance, which gave
me the alarm; but he immediately said something so agreeable on her
being at study, and the novelty of finding a lady employed in so
grave a manner, that he on a sudden became very familiarly a man of
no consequence, and in an instant laid all her suspicions of his
skill asleep, as he had almost done mine, till I observed him very
dangerously turn his discourse upon the elegance of her dress, and
her judgment in the choice of that very pretty mourning. Having had
women before under my care, I trembled at the apprehension of a man
of sense who could talk upon trifles, and resolved to stick to my
post with all the circumspection imaginable. In short, I
prepossessed her against all he could say to the advantage of her
dress and person; but he turned again the discourse, where I found I
had no power over her, on the abusing her friends and acquaintance.
He allowed, indeed, that Flora had a little beauty, and a great deal
of wit; but then she was so ungainly in her behaviour, and such a
laughing hoyden! Pastorella had with him the allowance of being
blameless; but what was that towards being praiseworthy? To be only
innocent is not to be virtuous! He afterwards spoke so much against
Mrs. Dipple's forehead, Mrs. Prim's mouth, Mrs. Dentifrice's teeth,
and Mrs. Fidget's cheeks that she grew downright in love with him;
for it is always to be understood that a lady takes all you detract
from the rest of her sex to be a gift to her. In a word, things
went so far that I was dismissed. The next, as I said, I went to
was a common swearer. Never was a creature so puzzled as myself
when I came first to view his brain; half of it was worn out, and
filled up with mere expletives that had nothing to do with any other
parts of the texture; therefore, when he called for his clothes in a
morning, he would cry, 'John!' John does not answer. 'What a
plague! nobody there? What the devil, and rot me, John, for a lazy
dog as you are!' I knew no way to cure him but by writing down all
he said one morning as he was dressing, and laying it before him on
the toilet when he came to pick his teeth. The last recital I gave
him of what he said for half an hour before was, 'What, the devil!
where is the washball? call the chairmen! d--n them, I warrant they
are at the alehouse already! zounds! and confound them!' When he
came to the glass he takes up my note--'Ha! this fellow is worse
than me: what, does he swear with pen and ink?' But, reading on,
he found them to be his own words. The stratagem had so good an
effect upon him that he grew immediately a new man, and is learning
to speak without an oath; which makes him extremely short in his
phrases; for, as I observed before, a common swearer has a brain
without any idea on the swearing side; therefore my ward has yet
mighty little to say, and is forced to substitute some other vehicle
of nonsense to supply the defect of his usual expletives. When I
left him, he made use of 'Odsbodikins! Oh me! and Never stir
alive!' and so forth; which gave me hopes of his recovery. So I
went to the next I told you of, the gamester. When we first take
our place about a man, the receptacles of the pericranium are
immediately searched. In his I found no one ordinary trace of
thinking; but strong passion, violent desires, and a continued
series of different changes had torn it to pieces. There appeared
no middle condition; the triumph of a prince, or the misery of a
beggar, were his alternate states. I was with him no longer than
one day, which was yesterday. In the morning at twelve we were
worth four thousand pounds; at three, we were arrived at six
thousand; half an hour after, we were reduced to one thousand; at
four of the clock, we were down to two hundred; at five, to fifty;
at six, to five; at seven, to one guinea; the next bet to nothing.
This morning he borrowed half a crown of the maid who cleans his
shoes, and is now gaming in Lincoln's Inn Fields among the boys for
farthings and oranges, till he has made up three pieces, and then he
returns to White's into the best company in town."

Thus ended our first discourse; and it is hoped that you will
forgive me that I have picked so little out of my companion at our
first interview. In the next it is possible he may tell me more
pleasing incidents; for though he is a familiar, he is not an evil,


From my own Apartment, May 12.

I have taken a resolution hereafter, on any want of intelligence, to
carry my Familiar abroad with me, who has promised to give me very
proper and just notices of persons and things, to make up the
history of the passing day. He is wonderfully skilful in the
knowledge of men and manners, which has made me more than ordinarily
curious to know how he came to that perfection, and I communicated
to him that doubt. "Mr. Pacolet," said I, "I am mightily surprised
to see you so good a judge of our nature and circumstances, since
you are a mere spirit, and have no knowledge of the bodily part of
us." He answered, smiling, "You are mistaken; I have been one of
you, and lived a month amongst you, which gives me an exact sense of
your condition. You are to know that all who enter into human life
have a certain date or stamen given to their being which they only
who die of age may be said to have arrived at; but it is ordered
sometimes by fate, that such as die infants are, after death, to
attend mankind to the end of that stamen of being in themselves
which was broken off by sickness or any other disaster. These are
proper guardians to men, as being sensible of the infirmity of their
State. You are philosopher enough to know that the difference of
men's understandings proceeds only from the various dispositions of
their organs; so that he who dies at a month old is in the next life
as knowing, though more innocent, as they who live to fifty; and
after death they have as perfect a memory and judgment of all that
passed in their lifetime as I have of all the revolutions in that
uneasy, turbulent condition of yours; and you would say I had enough
of it in a month were I to tell you all my misfortunes." "A life of
a month cannot have, one would think, much variety. But pray," said
I, "let us have your story."

Then he proceeds in the following manner:--

"It was one of the most wealthy families in Great Britain into which
I was born, and it was a very great happiness to me that it so
happened, otherwise I had still, in all probability, been living;
but I shall recount to you all the occurrences of my short and
miserable existence, just as, by examining into the traces made in
my brain, they appeared to me at that time. The first thing that
ever struck my senses was a noise over my head of one shrieking;
after which, methought, I took a full jump, and found myself in the
hands of a sorceress, who seemed as if she had been long waking and
employed in some incantation: I was thoroughly frightened, and
cried out; but she immediately seemed to go on in some magical
operation, and anointed me from head to foot. What they meant I
could not imagine; for there gathered a great crowd about me,
crying, 'An heir! an heir!' upon which I grew a little still, and
believed this was a ceremony to be used only to great persons, and
such as made them, what they called Heirs. I lay very quiet; but
the witch, for no manner of reason or provocation in the world,
takes me, and binds my head as hard as possibly she could; then ties
up both my legs, and makes me swallow down a horrid mixture. I
thought it a harsh entrance into life, to begin with taking physic;
but I was forced to it, or else must have taken down a great
instrument in which she gave it me. When I was thus dressed, I was
carried to a bedside, where a fine young lady, my mother I wot, had
like to have hugged me to death. From her they faced me about, and
there was a thing with quite another look from the rest of the room,
to whom they talked about my nose. He seemed wonderfully pleased to
see me; but I knew since, my nose belonged to another family. That
into which I was born is one of the most numerous amongst you;
therefore crowds of relations came every day to congratulate my
arrival; among others my cousin Betty, the greatest romp in nature;
she whisks me such a height over her head that I cried out for fear
of falling. She pinched me, and called me squealing chit, and threw
me into a girl's arms that was taken in to tend me. The girl was
very proud of the womanly employment of a nurse, and took upon her
to strip and dress me a-new, because I made a noise, to see what
ailed me; she did so, and stuck a pin in every joint about me. I
still cried; upon which she lays me on my face in her lap; and, to
quiet me, fell a-nailing in all the pins by clapping me on the back
and screaming a lullaby. But my pain made me exalt my voice above
hers, which brought up the nurse, the witch I first saw, and my
grandmother. The girl is turned downstairs, and I stripped again,
as well to find what ailed me as to satisfy my grandam's farther
curiosity. This good old woman's visit was the cause of all my
troubles. You are to understand that I was hitherto bred by hand,
and anybody that stood next gave me pap, if I did but open my lips;
insomuch that I was grown so cunning as to pretend myself asleep
when I was not, to prevent my being crammed. But my grandmother
began a loud lecture upon the idleness of the wives of this age,
who, for fear of their shape, forbear suckling their own offspring;
and ten nurses were immediately sent for; one was whispered to have
a wanton eye, and would soon spoil her milk; another was in a
consumption; the third had an ill voice, and would frighten me
instead of lulling me to sleep. Such exceptions were made against
all but one country milch-wench, to whom I was committed, and put to
the breast. This careless jade was eternally romping with the
footman and downright starved me; insomuch that I daily pined away,
and should never have been relieved had it not been that, on the
thirtieth day of my life, a Fellow of the Royal Society, who had
writ upon Cold Baths, came to visit me, and solemnly protested I was
utterly lost for want of that method; upon which he soused me head
and ears into a pail of water, where I had the good fortune to be
drowned; and so escaped being lashed into a linguist till sixteen,
and being married to an ill-natured wife till sixty, which had
certainly been my fate had not the enchantment between body and soul
been broken by this philosopher. Thus, till the age I should have
otherwise lived, I am obliged to watch the steps of men; and, if you
please, shall accompany you in your present walk, and get you
intelligence from the aerial lackey, who is in waiting, what are the
thoughts and purposes of any whom you inquire for."

I accepted his kind offer, and immediately took him with me in a
hack to White's.


White's Chocolate-house, May

We got in hither, and my companion threw a powder round us, that
made me as invisible as himself; so that we could see and hear all
others, ourselves unseen and unheard.

The first thing we took notice of was a nobleman of a goodly and
frank aspect, with his generous birth and temper visible in it,
playing at cards with a creature of a black and horrid countenance,
wherein were plainly delineated the arts of his mind, cozenage, and
falsehood. They were marking their game with counters, on which we
could see inscriptions, imperceptible to any but us. My Lord had
scored with pieces of ivory, on which were writ, "Good Fame, Glory,
Riches, Honour, and Posterity!" The spectre over-against him had on
his counters the inscriptions of "Dishonour, Impudence, Poverty,
Ignorance, and Want of Shame." "Bless me!", said I; "sure, my Lord
does not see what he plays for?" "As well as I do," says Pacolet.
"He despises that fellow he plays with, and scorns himself for
making him his companion." At the very instant he was speaking, I
saw the fellow who played with my Lord hide two cards in the roll of
his stocking. Pacolet immediately stole them from thence; upon
which the nobleman soon after won the game. The little triumph he
appeared in, when he got such a trifling stock of ready money,
though he had ventured so great sums with indifference, increased my
admiration. But Pacolet began to talk to me. "Mr. Isaac, this to
you looks wonderful, but not at all to us higher beings: that
nobleman has as many good qualities as any man of his order, and
seems to have no faults but what, as I may say, are excrescences
from virtues. He is generous to a prodigality, more affable than is
consistent with his quality, and courageous to a rashness. Yet,
after all this, the source of his whole conduct is, though he would
hate himself if he knew it, mere avarice. The ready cash laid
before the gamester's counters makes him venture, as you see, and
lay distinction against infamy, abundance against want; in a word,
all that is desirable against all that is to be avoided."
"However," said I, "be sure you disappoint the sharpers to-night,
and steal from them all the cards they hide." Pacolet obeyed me,
and my Lord went home with their whole bank in his pocket.


It is remarkable that I was bred by hand, and ate nothing but milk
till I was a twelvemonth old; from which time, to the eighth year of
my age, I was observed to delight in pudding and potatoes; and,
indeed, I retain a benevolence for that sort of food to this day. I
do not remember that I distinguished myself in anything at those
years but by my great skill at taw, for which I was so barbarously
used that it has ever since given me an aversion to gaming. In my
twelfth year, I suffered very much for two or three false concords.
At fifteen I was sent to the university, and stayed there for some
time; but a drum passing by, being a lover of music, I listed myself
for a soldier. As years came on, I began to examine things, and
grew discontented at the times. This made me quit the sword, and
take to the study of the occult sciences, in which I was so wrapped
up that Oliver Cromwell had been buried, and taken up again, five
years before I heard he was dead. This gave me first the reputation
of a conjurer, which has been of great disadvantage to me ever
since, and kept me out of all public employments. The greater part
of my later years has been divided between Dick's coffee-house, the
Trumpet in Sheer Lane, and my own lodgings.


From my own Apartment, June 5.

There are those among mankind who can enjoy no relish of their being
except the world is made acquainted with all that relates to them,
and think everything lost that passes unobserved; but others find a
solid delight in stealing by the crowd, and modelling their life
after such a manner as is as much above the approbation as the
practice of the vulgar. Life being too short to give instances
great enough of true friendship or good-will, some sages have
thought it pious to preserve a certain reverence for the Manes of
their deceased friends; and have withdrawn themselves from the rest
of the world at certain seasons, to commemorate in their own
thoughts such of their acquaintance who have gone before them out of
this life. And indeed, when we are advanced in years, there is not
a more pleasing entertainment than to recollect in a gloomy moment
the many we have parted with that have been dear and agreeable to
us, and to cast a melancholy thought or two after those with whom,
perhaps, we have indulged ourselves in whole nights of mirth and
jollity. With such inclinations in my heart I went to my closet
yesterday in the evening, and resolved to be sorrowful; upon which
occasion I could not but look with disdain upon myself, that though
all the reasons which I had to lament the loss of many of my friends
are now as forcible as at the moment of their departure, yet did not
my heart swell with the same sorrow which I felt at that time; but I
could, without tears, reflect upon many pleasing adventures I have
had with some, who have long been blended with common earth. Though
it is by the benefit of nature that length of time thus blots out
the violence of afflictions; yet with tempers too much given to
pleasure, it is almost necessary to revive the old places of grief
in our memory; and ponder step by step on past life, to lead the
mind into that sobriety of thought which poises the heart, and makes
it beat with due time, without being quickened with desire, or
retarded with despair, from its proper and equal motion. When we
wind up a clock that is out of order, to make it go well for the
future, we do not immediately set the hand to the present instant,
but we make it strike the round of all its hours, before it can
recover the regularity of its time. Such, thought I, shall be my
method this evening; and since it is that day of the year which I
dedicate to the memory of such in another life as I much delighted
in when living, an hour or two shall be sacred to sorrow and their
memory, while I run over all the melancholy circumstances of this
kind which have occurred to me in my whole life.

The first sense of sorrow I ever knew was upon the death of my
father, at which time I was not quite five years of age; but was
rather amazed at what all the house meant than possessed with a real
understanding why nobody was willing to play with me. I remember I
went into the room where his body lay, and my mother sat weeping
alone by it. I had my battledore in my band, and fell a-beating the
coffin, and calling Papa; for, I know not how, I had some slight
idea that he was locked up there. My mother catched me in her arms,
and, transported beyond all patience of the silent grief she was
before in, she almost smothered me in her embrace; and told me in a
flood of tears, "Papa could not hear me, and would play with me no
more, for they were going to put him under ground, whence he could
never come to us again." She was a very beautiful woman, of a noble
spirit, and there was a dignity in her grief amidst all the wildness
of her transport which, methought, struck me with an instinct of
sorrow, which, before I was sensible of what it was to grieve,
seized my very soul, and has made pity the weakness of my heart ever
since. The mind in infancy is, methinks, like the body in embryo;
and receives impressions so forcible that they are as hard to be
removed by reason as any mark with which a child is born is to be
taken away by any future application. Hence it is that good-nature
in me is no merit; but having been so frequently overwhelmed with
her tears before I knew the cause of any affliction, or could draw
defences from my own judgment, I imbibed commiseration, remorse, and
an unmanly gentleness of mind, which has since ensnared me into ten
thousand calamities; and from whence I can reap no advantage, except
it be that, in such a humour as I am now in, I can the better
indulge myself in the softness of humanity, and enjoy that sweet
anxiety which arises from the memory of past afflictions.

We, that are very old, are better able to remember things which
befell us in our distant youth than the passages of later days. For
this reason it is that the companions of my strong and vigorous
years present themselves more immediately to me in this office of
sorrow. Untimely or unhappy deaths are what we are most apt to
lament: so little are we able to make it indifferent when a thing
happens, though we know it must happen. Thus we groan under life,
and bewail those who are relieved from it. Every object that
returns to our imagination raises different passions, according to
the circumstance of their departure. Who can have lived in an army,
and in a serious hour reflect upon the many gay and agreeable men
that might long have flourished in the arts of peace, and not join
with the imprecations of the fatherless and widow on the tyrant to
whose ambition they fell sacrifices? But gallant men, who are cut
oft by the sword, move rather our veneration than our pity; and we
gather relief enough from their own contempt of death, to make it no
evil, which was approached with so much cheerfulness, and attended
with so much honour. But when we turn our thoughts from the great
parts of life on such occasions, and instead of lamenting those who
stood ready to give death to those from whom they had the fortune to
receive it; I say, when we let our thoughts wander from such noble
objects, and consider the havoc which is made among the tender and
the innocent, pity enters with an unmixed softness, and possesses
all our souls at once.

Here, were there words to express such sentiments with proper
tenderness, I should record the beauty, innocence, and untimely
death of the first object my eyes ever beheld with love. The
beauteous virgin! how ignorantly did she charm, how carelessly
excel! Oh, Death! thou hast right to the bold, to the ambitious, to
the high, and to the haughty; but why this cruelty to the humble, to
the meek, to the undiscerning, to the thoughtless? Nor age, nor
business, nor distress can erase the dear image from my imagination.
In the same week, I saw her dressed for a ball, and in a shroud.
How ill did the habit of death become the pretty trifler! I still
behold the smiling earth--A large train of disasters were coming on
to my memory, when my servant knocked at my closet-door, and
interrupted me with a letter, attended with a hamper of wine, of the
same sort with that which is to be put to sale on Thursday next at
Garraway's coffee-house. Upon the receipt of it I sent for three of
my friends. We are so intimate that we can be company in whatever
state of mind we meet, and can entertain each other without
expecting always to rejoice. The wine we found to be generous and
warming, but with such a heat as moved us rather to be cheerful than
frolicsome. It revived the spirits, without firing the blood. We
commended it till two of the clock this morning; and having to-day
met a little before dinner, we found that, though we drank two
bottles a man, we had much more reason to recollect than forget what
had passed the night before.


From my own Apartment, September 3O.

I am called off from public dissertations by a domestic affair of
great importance, which is no less than the disposal of my sister
Jenny for life. The girl is a girl of great merit and pleasing
conversation: but I being born of my father's first wife, and she
of his third, she converses with me rather like a daughter than a
sister. I have indeed told her that if she kept her honour, and
behaved herself in such a manner as became the Bickerstaffs, I would
get her an agreeable man for her husband; which was a promise I made
her after reading a passage in Pliny's "Epistles." That polite
author had been employed to find out a consort for his friend's
daughter, and gives the following character of the man he had
pitched upon. "Aciliano plurimum vigoris et industriae quanquam in
maxima verecundia: est illi facies liberalis, multo sanguine, multo
rubore, suffusa: est ingenua totius corporis pulchritudo et quidam
senatorius decor, quae ego nequaquam arbitror negligenda: debet
enim hoc castitati puellarum quasi praemium dari." "Acilianus," for
that was the gentleman's name, "is a man of extraordinary vigour and
industry, accompanied with the greatest modesty: he has very much
of the gentleman, with a lively colour, and flush of health in his
aspect. His whole person is finely turned, and speaks him a man of
quality; which are qualifications that, I think, ought by no means
to be overlooked, and should be bestowed on a daughter as the reward
of her chastity."

A woman that will give herself liberties need not put her parents to
so much trouble; for if she does not possess these ornaments in a
husband she can supply herself elsewhere. But this is not the case
of my sister Jenny, who, I may say without vanity, is as unspotted a
spinster as any in Great Britain. I shall take this occasion to
recommend the conduct of our own family in this particular.

We have, in the genealogy of our house, the descriptions and
pictures of our ancestors from the time of King Arthur, in whose
days there was one of my own name, a knight of his round table, and
known by the name of Sir Isaac Bickerstaff. He was low of stature,
and of a very swarthy complexion, not unlike a Portuguese Jew. But
he was more prudent than men of that height usually are, and would
often communicate to his friends his design of lengthening and
whitening his posterity. His eldest son Ralph, for that was his
name, was for this reason married to a lady who had little else to
recommend her but that she was very tall and very fair. The issue
of this match, with the help of high shoes, made a tolerable figure
in the next age, though the complexion of the family was obscure
till the fourth generation from that marriage. From which time,
till the reign of William the Conqueror, the females of our house
were famous for their needlework and fine skins. In the male line
there happened an unlucky accident in the reign of Richard III., the
eldest son of Philip, then chief of the family, being born with a
hump-back and very high nose. This was the more astonishing,
because none of his forefathers ever had such a blemish, nor indeed
was there any in the neighbourhood of that make, except the butler,
who was noted for round shoulders and a Roman nose; what made the
nose the less excusable was the remarkable smallness of his eyes.

These several defects were mended by succeeding matches: the eyes
were open in the next generation, and the hump fell in a century and
a half, but the greatest difficulty was how to reduce the nose,
which I do not find was accomplished till about the middle of the
reign of Henry VII., or rather the beginning of that of Henry VIII.

But while our ancestors were thus taken up in cultivating the eyes
and nose, the face of the Bickerstaffs fell down insensibly into
chin, which was not taken notice of, their thoughts being so much
employed upon the more noble features, till it became almost too
long to be remedied.

But length of time, and successive care in our alliances, have cured
this also, and reduced our faces into that tolerable oval which we
enjoy at present. I would not be tedious in this discourse, but
cannot but observe that our race suffered very much about three
hundred years ago, by the marriage of one of our heiresses with an
eminent courtier, who gave us spindle-shanks and cramps in our
bones; insomuch, that we did not recover our health and legs till
Sir Walter Bickerstaff married Maud the milkmaid, of whom the then
Garter King-at-Arms, a facetious person, said pleasantly enough,
"that she had spoiled our blood, but mended our constitutions."

After this account of the effect our prudent choice of matches has
had upon our persons and features, I cannot but observe that there
are daily instances of as great changes made by marriage upon men's
minds and humours. One might wear any passion out of a family by
culture, as skilful gardeners blot a colour out of a tulip that
hurts its beauty. One might produce an affable temper out of a
shrew, by grafting the mild upon the choleric; or raise a
jack-pudding from a prude, by inoculating mirth and melancholy. It
is for want of care in the disposing of our children, with regard to
our bodies and minds, that we go into a house and see such different
complexions and humours in the same race and family. But to me it
is as plain as a pikestaff, from what mixture it is that this
daughter silently lours, the other steals a kind look at you, a
third is exactly well behaved, a fourth a splenetic, and a fifth a

In this disposal of my sister, I have chosen with an eye to her
being a wit, and provided that the bridegroom be a man of a sound
and excellent judgment, who will seldom mind what she says when she
begins to harangue, for Jenny's only imperfection is an admiration
of her parts, which inclines her to be a little, but very little,
sluttish; and you are ever to remark that we are apt to cultivate
most, and bring into observation what we think most excellent in
ourselves, or most capable of improvement. Thus, my sister, instead
of consulting her glass and her toilet for an hour and a half after
her private devotion, sits with her nose full of snuff and a man's
nightcap on her head, reading plays and romances. Her wit she
thinks her distinction, therefore knows nothing of the skill of
dress, or making her person agreeable. It would make you laugh to
see me often, with my spectacles on, lacing her stays, for she is so
very a wit, that she understands no ordinary thing in the world.

For this reason I have disposed of her to a man of business, who
will soon let her see that to be well dressed, in good humour, and
cheerful in the command of her family, are the arts and sciences of
female life. I could have bestowed her upon a fine gentleman, who
extremely admired her wit, and would have given her a coach and six,
but I found it absolutely necessary to cross the strain; for had
they met, they had entirely been rivals in discourse, and in
continual contention for the superiority of understanding, and
brought forth critics, pedants, or pretty good poets. As it is, I
expect an offspring fit for the habitation of the city, town or
country; creatures that are docile and tractable in whatever we put
them to.

To convince men of the necessity of taking this method, let any one
even below the skill of an astrologer, behold the turn of faces he
meets as soon as he passes Cheapside Conduit, and you see a deep
attention and a certain unthinking sharpness in every countenance.
They look attentive, but their thoughts are engaged on mean
purposes. To me it is very apparent, when I see a citizen pass by,
whether his head is upon woollen, silks, iron, sugar, indigo, or
stocks. Now this trace of thought appears or lies hid in the race
for two or three generations.

I know at this time a person of a vast estate, who is the immediate
descendant of a fine gentleman, but the great grandson of a broker,
in whom his ancestor is now revived. He is a very honest gentleman
in his principles, but cannot for his blood talk fairly; he is
heartily sorry for it; but he cheats by constitution, and
over-reaches by instinct.

The happiness of the man who marries my sister will be, that he has
no faults to correct in her but her own, a little bias of fancy, or
particularity of manners which grew in herself, and can be amended
by her. From such an untainted couple we can hope to have our
family rise to its ancient splendour of face, air, countenance,
manner, and shape, without discovering the product of ten nations in
one house. Obadiah Greenhat says, "he never comes into any company
in England, but he distinguishes the different nations of which we
are composed." There is scarce such a living creature as a true
Briton. We sit down, indeed, all friends, acquaintance, and
neighbours; but after two bottles you see a Dane start up and swear,
"the kingdom is his own." A Saxon drinks up the whole quart, and
swears he will dispute that with him. A Norman tells them both, he
will assert his liberty; and a Welshman cries, "They are all
foreigners and intruders of yesterday," and beats them out of the
room. Such accidents happen frequently among neighbours' children,
and cousin-germans. For which reason I say study your race, or the
soil of your family will dwindle into cits or 'squires, or run up
into wits or madmen.


White's Chocolate House, October 12.

It will be allowed me that I have all along showed great respect in
matters which concern the fair sex; but the inhumanity with which
the author of the following letter has been used is not to be

"Yesterday I had the misfortune to drop in at my Lady Haughty's
upon her visiting-day. When I entered the room where she receives
company, they all stood up indeed; but they stood as if they were to
stare at, rather than to receive me. After a long pause, a servant
brought a round stool, on which I sat down at the lower end of the
room, in the presence of no less than twelve persons, gentlemen and
ladies, lolling in elbow-chairs. And, to complete my disgrace, my
mistress was of the society. I tried to compose myself in vain, not
knowing how to dispose of either my legs or arms, nor how to shape
my countenance, the eyes of the whole room being still upon me in a
profound silence. My confusion at last was so great, that, without
speaking, or being spoken to, I fled for it, and left the assembly
to treat me at their discretion. A lecture from you upon these
inhuman distinctions in a free nation will, I doubt not, prevent the
like evils for the future, and make it, as we say, as cheap sitting
as standing.
"I am, with the greatest respect, Sir,
"Your most humble, and
"Most obedient servant,
"J. R.
"Oct. 9.

"P.S.--I had almost forgot to inform you that a fair young lady sat
in an armless chair upon my right hand, with manifest discontent in
her looks."

Soon after the receipt of this epistle, I heard a very gentle knock
at my door. My maid went down and brought up word "that a tall,
lean, black man, well dressed, who said he had not the honour to be
acquainted with me, desired to be admitted." I bid her show him up,
met him at my chamber-door, and then fell back a few paces. He
approached me with great respect, and told me, with a low voice, "he
was the gentleman that had been seated upon the round stool." I
immediately recollected that there was a joint-stool in my chamber,
which I was afraid he might take for an instrument of distinction,
and therefore winked at my boy to carry it into my closet. I then
took him by the hand, and led him to the upper end of my room, where
I placed him in my great elbow-chair, at the same time drawing
another without arms to it for myself to sit by him. I then asked
him, "at what time this misfortune befell him?" He answered,
"Between the hours of seven and eight in the evening." I further
demanded of him what he had ate or drank that day? He replied,
"Nothing but a dish of water-gruel with a few plums in it." In the
next place, I felt his pulse, which was very low and languishing.
These circumstances confirmed me in an opinion, which I had
entertained upon the first reading of his letter, that the gentleman
was far gone in the spleen. I therefore advised him to rise the
next morning, and plunge into the cold bath, there to remain under
water till he was almost drowned. This I ordered him to repeat six
days successively; and on the seventh to repair at the wonted hour
to my Lady Haughty's, and to acquaint me afterwards with what he
shall meet with there: and particularly to tell me, whether he
shall think they stared upon him so much as the time before. The
gentleman smiled; and, by his way of talking to me, showed himself a
man of excellent sense in all particulars, unless when a cane-chair,
a round or a joint-stool, were spoken of. He opened his heart to me
at the same time concerning several other grievances, such as being
overlooked in public assemblies, having his bows unanswered, being
helped last at table, and placed at the back part of a coach, with
many other distresses, which have withered his countenance, and worn
him to a skeleton. Finding him a man of reason, I entered into the
bottom of his distemper. "Sir," said I, "there are more of your
constitution in this island of Great Britain than in any other part
of the world: and I beg the favour of you to tell me whether you do
not observe that you meet with most affronts in rainy days?" He
answered candidly, "that he had long observed, that people were less
saucy in sunshine than in cloudy weather." Upon which I told him
plainly, "his distemper was the spleen; and that though the world
was very ill-natured, it was not so bad as he believed it." I
further assured him, "that his use of the cold bath, with a course
of STEEL which I should prescribe him, would certainly cure most of
his acquaintance of their rudeness, ill-behaviour, and
impertinence." My patient smiled and promised to observe my
prescriptions, not forgetting to give me an account of their


From my own Apartment, October 14.

There are two kinds of immortality, that which the soul really
enjoys after this life, and that imaginary existence by which men
live in their fame and reputation. The best and greatest actions
have proceeded from the prospect of the one or the other of these;
but my design is to treat only of those who have chiefly proposed to
themselves the latter as the principal reward of their labours. It
was for this reason that I excluded from my Tables of Fame all the
great founders and votaries of religion; and it is for this reason
also that I am more than ordinarily anxious to do justice to the
persons of whom I am now going to speak, for, since fame was the
only end of all their enterprises and studies, a man cannot be too
scrupulous in allotting them their due proportion of it. It was
this consideration which made me call the whole body of the learned
to my assistance; to many of whom I must own my obligations for the
catalogues of illustrious persons which they have sent me in upon
this occasion. I yesterday employed the whole afternoon in
comparing them with each other, which made so strong an impression
upon my imagination, that they broke my sleep for the first part of
the following night, and at length threw me into a very agreeable
vision, which I shall beg leave to describe in all its particulars.

I dreamed that I was conveyed into a wide and boundless plain, that
was covered with prodigious multitudes of people, which no man could
number. In the midst of it there stood a mountain, with its head
above the clouds. The sides were extremely steep, and of such a
particular structure, that no creature which was not made in a human
figure could possibly ascend it. On a sudden there was heard from
the top of it a sound like that of a trumpet, but so exceeding sweet
and harmonious, that it filled the hearts of those who heard it with
raptures, and gave such high and delightful sensations, as seemed to
animate and raise human nature above itself. This made me very much
amazed to find so very few in that innumerable multitude who had
ears fine enough to hear or relish this music with pleasure; but my
wonder abated when, upon looking round me, I saw most of them
attentive to three Syrens, clothed like goddesses, and distinguished
by the names of Sloth, Ignorance, and Pleasure. They were seated on
three rocks, amidst a beautiful variety of groves, meadows, and
rivulets that lay on the borders of the mountain. While this base
and grovelling multitude of different nations, ranks, and ages were
listening to these delusive deities, those of a more erect aspect
and exalted spirit separated themselves from the rest, and marched
in great bodies towards the mountain from whence they heard the
sound, which still grew sweeter the more they listened to it.

On a sudden methought this select band sprang forward, with a
resolution to climb the ascent, and follow the call of that heavenly
music. Every one took something with him that he thought might be
of assistance to him in his march. Several had their swords drawn,
some carried rolls of paper in their hands, some had compasses,
others quadrants, others telescopes, and others pencils. Some had
laurels on their heads, and others buskins on their legs; in short,
there was scarce any instrument of a mechanic art, or liberal
science, which was not made of use on this occasion. My good demon,
who stood at my right hand during this course of the whole vision,
observing in me a burning desire to join that glorious company, told
me, "he highly approved that generous ardour with which I seemed
transported; but at the same time advised me to cover my face with a
mask all the while I was to labour on the ascent." I took his
counsel, without inquiring into his reasons. The whole body now
broke into different parties, and began to climb the precipice by
ten thousand different paths. Several got into little alleys, which
did not reach far up the hill before they ended, and led no further;
and I observed that most of the artizans, which considerably
diminished our number, fell into these paths.

We left another considerable body of adventurers behind us who
thought they had discovered byways up the hill, which proved so very
intricate and perplexed, that after having advanced in them a little
they were quite lost among the several turns and windings; and
though they were as active as any in their motions, they made but
little progress in the ascent. These, as my guide informed me, were
men of subtle tempers, and puzzled politics, who would supply the
place of real wisdom with cunning and artifice. Among those who
were far advanced in their way there were some that by one false
step fell backward, and lost more ground in a moment, than they had
gained for many hours, or could be ever able to recover. We were
now advanced very high, and observed that all the different paths
which ran about the sides of the mountain began to meet in two great
roads, which insensibly gathered the whole multitude of travellers
into two great bodies. At a little distance from the entrance of
each road there stood a hideous phantom, that opposed our further
passage. One of these apparitions had his right hand filled with
darts, which he brandished in the face of all who came up that way.
Crowds ran back at the appearance of it, and cried out, "Death!"
The spectre that guarded the other road was Envy. She was not armed
with weapons of destruction, like the former, but by dreadful
hissings, noises of reproach, and a horrid distracted laughter; she
appeared more frightful than Death itself, insomuch that abundance
of our company were discouraged from passing any further, and some
appeared ashamed of having come so far. As for myself, I must
confess my heart shrunk within me at the sight of these ghastly
appearances; but, on a sudden, the voice of the trumpet came more
full upon us, so that we felt a new resolution reviving in us, and
in proportion as this resolution grew the terrors before us seemed
to vanish. Most of the company, who had swords in their hands,
marched on with great spirit, and an air of defiance, up the road
that was commanded by Death; while others, who had thought and
contemplation in their looks, went forward in a more composed manner
up the road possessed by Envy. The way above these apparitions grew
smooth and uniform, and was so delightful, that the travellers went
on with pleasure, and in a little time arrived at the top of the
mountain. They here began to breathe a delicious kind of ether, and
saw all the fields about them covered with a kind of purple light,
that made them reflect with satisfaction on their past toils, and
diffused a secret joy through the whole assembly, which showed
itself in every look and feature. In the midst of these happy
fields there stood a palace of a very glorious structure. It had
four great folding-doors that faced the four several quarters of the
world. On the top of it was enthroned the goddess of the mountain,
who smiled upon her votaries, and sounded the silver trumpet which
had called them up, and cheered them in their passage to her palace.
They had now formed themselves into several divisions, a band of
historians taking their stations at each door, according to the
persons whom they were to introduce.

On a sudden the trumpet, which had hitherto sounded only a march, or
a point of war, now swelled all its notes into triumph and
exultation. The whole fabric shook, and the doors flew open. The
first who stepped forward was a beautiful and blooming hero, and, as
I heard by the murmurs round me, Alexander the Great. He was
conducted by a crowd of historians. The person who immediately
walked before him was remarkable for an embroidered garment, who,
not being well acquainted with the place, was conducting him to an
apartment appointed for the reception of fabulous heroes. The name
of this false guide was Quintus Curtius. But Arrian and Plutarch,
who knew better the avenues of this palace, conducted him into the
great hall, and placed him at the upper end of the first table. My
good demon, that I might see the whole ceremony, conveyed me to a
corner of this room, where I might perceive all that passed without
being seen myself. The next who entered was a charming virgin,
leading in a venerable old man that was blind. Under her left arm
she bore a harp, and on her head a garland. Alexander, who was very
well acquainted with Homer, stood up at his entrance, and placed him
on his right hand. The virgin, who it seems was one of the Nine
Sisters that attended on the Goddess of Fame, smiled with an
ineffable grace at their meeting, and retired.

Julius Caesar was now coming forward; and though most of the
historians offered their service to introduce him, he left them at
the door, and would have no conductor but himself.

The next who advanced was a man of a homely but cheerful aspect, and
attended by persons of greater figure than any that appeared on this
occasion. Plato was on his right hand, and Xenophon on his left.
He bowed to Homer, and sat down by him. It was expected that Plato
would himself have taken a place next to his master Socrates: but
on a sudden there was heard a great clamour of disputants at the
door, who appeared with Aristotle at the head of them. That
philosopher, with some rudeness, but great strength of reason,
convinced the whole table that a title to the fifth place was his
due, and took it accordingly.

He had scarce sat down, when the same beautiful virgin that had
introduced Homer brought in another, who hung back at the entrance,
and would have excused himself, had not his modesty been overcome by
the invitation of all who sat at the table. His guide and behaviour
made me easily conclude it was Virgil. Cicero next appeared, and
took his place. He had inquired at the door for Lucceius to
introduce him, but not finding him there, he contented himself with
the attendance of many other writers, who all, except Sallust,
appeared highly pleased with the office.

We waited some time in expectation of the next worthy, who came in
with a great retinue of historians, whose names I could not learn,
most of them being natives of Carthage. The person thus conducted,
who was Hannibal, seemed much disturbed, and could not forbear
complaining to the board of the affronts he had met with among the
Roman historians, "who attempted," says he, "to carry me into the
subterraneous apartment, and perhaps would have done it, had it not
been for the impartiality of this gentleman," pointing to Polybius,
"who was the only person, except my own countrymen, that was willing
to conduct me hither."

The Carthaginian took his seat, and Pompey entered, with great
dignity in his own person, and preceded by several historians.
Lucan the poet was at the head of them, who, observing Homer and
Virgil at the table, was going to sit down himself, had not the
latter whispered him that whatever pretence he might otherwise have
had, he forfeited his claim to it by coming in as one of the
historians. Lucan was so exasperated with the repulse, that he
muttered something to himself, and was heard to say that since he
could not have a seat among them himself, he would bring in one who
alone had more merit than their whole assembly: upon which he went
to the door and brought in Cato of Utica. That great man approached
the company with such an air that showed he contemned the honour
which he laid a claim to. Observing the seat opposite to Caesar was
vacant, he took possession of it, and spoke two or three smart
sentences upon the nature of precedency, which, according to him,
consisted not in place, but in intrinsic merit: to which he added,
"that the most virtuous man, wherever he was seated, was always at
the upper end of the table." Socrates, who had a great spirit of
raillery with his wisdom, could not forbear smiling at a virtue
which took so little pains to make itself agreeable. Cicero took
the occasion to make a long discourse in praise of Cato, which he
uttered with much vehemence. Caesar answered him with a great deal
of seeming temper, but, as I stood at a great distance from them, I
was not able to hear one word of what they said. But I could not
forbear taking notice that in all the discourse which passed at the
table a word or nod from Homer decided the controversy.

After a short pause Augustus appeared, looking round him, with a
serene and affable countenance, upon all the writers of his age, who
strove among themselves which of them should show him the greatest
marks of gratitude and respect. Virgil rose from the table to meet
him; and though he was an acceptable guest to all, he appeared more
such to the learned than the military worthies.

The next man astonished the whole table with his appearance. He was
slow, solemn, and silent in his behaviour, and wore a raiment
curiously wrought with hieroglyphics. As he came into the middle of
the room, he threw back the skirt of it, and discovered a golden
thigh. Socrates, at the sight of it, declared against keeping
company with any who were not made of flesh and blood, and,
therefore, desired Diogenes the Laertian to lead him to the
apartment allotted for fabulous heroes and worthies of dubious
existence. At his going out he told them, "that they did not know
whom they dismissed; that he was now Pythagoras, the first of
philosophers, and that formerly he had been a very brave man at the
Siege of Troy." "That may be true," said Socrates, "but you forget
that you have likewise been a very great harlot in your time." This
exclusion made way for Archimedes, who came forward with a scheme of
mathematical figures in his hand, among which I observed a cone and
a cylinder.

Seeing this table full, I desired my guide, for variety, to lead me
to the fabulous apartment, the roof of which was painted with
Gorgons, Chimeras, and Centaurs, with many other emblematical
figures, which I wanted both time and skill to unriddle. The first
table was almost full. At the upper end sat Hercules, leaning an
arm upon his club; on his right hand were Achilles and Ulysses, and
between them AEneas; on his left were Hector, Theseus, and Jason:
the lower end had Orpheus, AEsop, Phalaris, and Musaeus. The ushers
seemed at a loss for a twelfth man, when, methought, to my great joy
and surprise, I heard some at the lower end of the table mention
Isaac Bickerstaff; but those of the upper end received it with
disdain, and said, "if they must have a British worthy, they would
have Robin Hood!"

While I was transported with the honour that was done me, and
burning with envy against my competitor, I was awakened by the noise
of the cannon which were then fired for the taking of Mons. I
should have been very much troubled at being thrown out of so
pleasing a vision on any other occasion; but thought it an agreeable
change, to have my thoughts diverted from the greatest among the
dead and fabulous heroes to the most famous among the real and the


From my own Apartment, October 17.

After the mind has been employed on contemplations suitable to its
greatness, it is unnatural to run into sudden mirth or levity; but
we must let the soul subside, as it rose, by proper degrees. My
late considerations of the ancient heroes impressed a certain
gravity upon my mind, which is much above the little gratification
received from starts of humour and fancy, and threw me into a
pleasing sadness. In this state of thought I have been looking at
the fire, and in a pensive manner reflecting upon the great
misfortunes and calamities incident to human life, among which there
are none that touch so sensibly as those which befall persons who
eminently love, and meet with fatal interruptions of their happiness
when they least expect it. The piety of children to parents, and
the affection of parents to their children, are the effects of
instinct; but the affection between lovers and friends is founded on
reason and choice, which has always made me think the sorrows of the
latter much more to be pitied than those of the former. The
contemplation of distresses of this sort softens the mind of man,
and makes the heart better. It extinguishes the seeds of envy and
ill-will towards mankind, corrects the pride of prosperity, and
beats down all that fierceness and insolence which are apt to get
into the minds of the daring and fortunate.

For this reason the wise Athenians, in their theatrical
performances, laid before the eyes of the people the greatest
afflictions which could befall human life, and insensibly polished
their tempers by such representations. Among the moderns, indeed,
there has arisen a chimerical method of disposing the fortune of the
persons represented, according to what they call poetical justice;
and letting none be unhappy but those who deserve it. In such
cases, an intelligent spectator, if he is concerned, knows he ought
not to be so, and can learn nothing from such a tenderness, but that
he is a weak creature, whose passions cannot follow the dictates of
his understanding. It is very natural, when one is got into such a
way of thinking, to recollect these examples of sorrow which have
made the strongest impression upon our imaginations. An instance or
two of such you will give me leave to communicate.

A young gentleman and lady of ancient and honourable houses in
Cornwall had from their childhood entertained for each other a
generous and noble passion, which had been long opposed by their
friends, by reason of the inequality of their fortunes; but their
constancy to each other, and obedience to those on whom they
depended, wrought so much upon their relations, that these
celebrated lovers were at length joined in marriage. Soon after
their nuptials the bridegroom was obliged to go into a foreign
country, to take care of a considerable fortune, which was left him
by a relation, and came very opportunely to improve their moderate
circumstances. They received the congratulations of all the country
on this occasion; and I remember it was a common sentence in
everyone's mouth, "You see how faithful love is rewarded."

He took this agreeable voyage, and sent home every post fresh
accounts of his success in his affairs abroad; but at last, though
he designed to return with the next ship, he lamented in his letters
that "business would detain him some time longer from home," because
he would give himself the pleasure of an unexpected arrival.

The young lady, after the heat of the day, walked every evening on
the sea-shore, near which she lived, with a familiar friend, her
husband's kinswoman, and diverted herself with what objects they met
there, or upon discourses of the future methods of life, in the
happy change of their circumstances. They stood one evening on the
shore together in a perfect tranquillity, observing the setting of
the sun, the calm face of the deep, and the silent heaving of the
waves, which gently rolled towards them, and broke at their feet,
when at a distance her kinswoman saw something float on the waters,
which she fancied was a chest, and with a smile told her, "she saw
it first, and if it came ashore full of jewels she had a right to
it." They both fixed their eyes upon it, and entertained themselves
with the subject of the wreck, the cousin still asserting her right,
but promising, "if it was a prize, to give her a very rich coral for
the child which she was then expecting, provided she might be
godmother." Their mirth soon abated when they observed upon the
nearer approach that it was a human body. The young lady, who had a
heart naturally filled with pity and compassion, made many
melancholy reflections on the occasion. "Who knows," said she, "but
this man may be the only hope and heir of a wealthy house; the
darling of indulgent parents, who are now in impertinent mirth, and
pleasing themselves with the thoughts of offering him a bride they
had got ready for him? or, may not he be the master of a family that
wholly depended upon his life? There may, for aught we know, be
half-a-dozen fatherless children and a tender wife, now exposed to
poverty by his death. What pleasure might he have promised himself
in the different welcome he was to have from her and them! But let
us go away; it is a dreadful sight! The best office we can do is to
take care that the poor man, whoever he is, may be decently buried."
She turned away, when the wave threw the carcass on the shore. The
kinswoman immediately shrieked out, "Oh, my cousin!" and fell upon
the ground. The unhappy wife went to help her friend, when she saw
her own husband at her feet, and dropped in a swoon upon the body.
An old woman, who had been the gentleman's nurse, came out about
this time to call the ladies in to supper, and found her child, as
she always called him, dead on the shore, her mistress and kinswoman
both lying dead by him. Her loud lamentations, and calling her
young master to life, soon awaked the friend from her trance, but
the wife was gone for ever.

When the family and neighbourhood got together round the bodies, no
one asked any question, but the objects before them told the story.

Incidents of this nature are the more moving when they are drawn by
persons concerned in the catastrophe, notwithstanding they are often
oppressed beyond the power of giving them in a distinct light,
except we gather their sorrow from their inability to speak it.

I have two original letters, written both on the same day, which are
to me exquisite in their different kinds. The occasion was this. A
gentleman who had courted a most agreeable young woman, and won her
heart, obtained also the consent of her father, to whom she was an
only child. The old man had a fancy that they should be married in
the same church where he himself was, in a village in Westmoreland,
and made them set out while he was laid up with the gout at London.
The bridegroom took only his man, the bride her maid: they had the
most agreeable journey imaginable to the place of marriage, from
whence the bridegroom writ the following letter to his wife's

"After a very pleasant journey hither, we are preparing for the
happy hour in which I am to be your son. I assure you the bride
carries it, in the eye of the vicar who married you, much beyond her
mother though he says your open sleeves, pantaloons, and
shoulder-knot made a much better show than the finical dress I am
in. However, I am contented to be the second fine man this village
ever saw, and shall make it very merry before night, because I shall
write myself from thence,
"Your most dutiful son,
"T. D.
"March 18, 1672.
"The bride gives her duty, and is as handsome as an angel. I
am the happiest man breathing."

The villagers were assembling about the church, and the happy couple
took a walk in a private garden. The bridegroom's man knew his
master would leave the place on a sudden after the wedding, and
seeing him draw his pistols the night before, took this opportunity
to go into his chamber and charge them. Upon their return from the
garden, they went into that room, and, after a little fond raillery
on the subject of their courtship, the lover took up a pistol, which
he knew he had unloaded the night before, and, presenting it to her,
said, with the most graceful air, whilst she looked pleased at his
agreeable flattery, "Now, madam, repent of all those cruelties you
have been guilty of to me; consider, before you die, how often you
have made a poor wretch freeze under your casement; you shall die,
you tyrant, you shall die, with all those instruments of death and
destruction about you, with that enchanting smile, those killing
ringlets of your hair--" "Give fire!" said she, laughing. He did
so, and shot her dead. Who can speak his condition? but he bore it
so patiently as to call up his man. The poor wretch entered, and
his master locked the door upon him. "Will," said he, "did you
charge these pistols?" He answered, "Yes." Upon which, he shot him
dead with that remaining. After this, amidst a thousand broken
sobs, piercing groans, and distracted motions, he writ the following
letter to the father of his dead mistress:--

"I, who two hours ago told you truly I was the happiest man
alive am now the most miserable. Your daughter lies dead at my
feet, killed by my hand, through a mistake of my man's charging my
pistols unknown to me. Him I have murdered for it. Such is my
wedding day. I will immediately follow my wife to her grave, but
before I throw myself upon my sword, I command my distraction so far
as to explain my story to you. I fear my heart will not keep
together till I have stabbed it. Poor good old man! Remember, he
that killed your daughter died for it. In the article of death, I
give you my thanks and pray for you, though I dare not for myself.
If it be possible, do not curse me."


From my own Apartment, October 19.

It is my frequent practice to visit places of resort in this town
where I am least known, to observe what reception my works meet with
in the world, and what good effects I may promise myself from my
labours, and it being a privilege asserted by Monsieur Montaigne,
and others, of vain-glorious memory, that we writers of essays may
talk of ourselves, I take the liberty to give an account of the
remarks which I find are made by some of my gentle readers upon
these my dissertations.

I happened this evening to fall into a coffee-house near the
'Change, where two persons were reading my account of the "Table of

The one of these was commenting as he read, and explaining who was
meant by this and the other worthy as he passed on. I observed the
person over against him wonderfully intent and satisfied with his
explanation. When he came to Julius Caesar, who is said to have
refused any conductor to the table: "No, no," said he, "he is in
the right of it, he has money enough to be welcome wherever he
comes;" and then whispered, "He means a certain colonel of the
Trainbands." Upon reading that Aristotle made his claim with some
rudeness, but great strength of reason; "Who can that be, so rough
and so reasonable? It must be some Whig, I warrant you. There is
nothing but party in these public papers." Where Pythagoras is said
to have a golden thigh, "Ay, ay," said he, "he has money enough in
his breeches; that is the alderman of our ward." You must know,
whatever he read, I found he interpreted from his own way of life
and acquaintance. I am glad my readers can construe for themselves
these difficult points; but, for the benefit of posterity, I design,
when I come to write my last paper of this kind, to make it an
explanation of all my former. In that piece you shall have all I
have commended with their proper names. The faulty characters must
be left as they are, because we live in an age wherein vice is very
general, and virtue very particular; for which reason the latter
only wants explanation.

But I must turn my present discourse to what is of yet greater
regard to me than the care of my writings; that is to say, the
preservation of a lady's heart. Little did I think I should ever
have business of this kind on my hands more; but, as little as any
one who knows me would believe it, there is a lady at this time who
professes love to me. Her passion and good humour you shall have in
her own words.

"I had formerly a very good opinion of myself; but it is now
withdrawn, and I have placed it upon you, Mr. Bickerstaff, for whom
I am not ashamed to declare I have a very great passion and
tenderness. It is not for your face, for that I never saw; your
shape and height I am equally a stranger to; but your understanding
charms me, and I am lost if you do not dissemble a little love for
me. I am not without hopes; because I am not like the tawdry gay
things that are fit only to make bone-lace. I am neither
childish-young, nor beldame-old, but, the world says, a good
agreeable woman.
"Speak peace to a troubled heart, troubled only for you; and in
your next paper, let me find your thoughts of me.
"Do not think of finding out who I am, for, notwithstanding
your interest in demons, they cannot help you either to my name, or
a sight of my face; therefore, do not let them deceive you.
"I can bear no discourse, if you are not the subject; and
believe me, I know more of love than you do of astronomy.
"Pray, say some civil things in return to my generosity, and
you shall have my very best pen employed to thank you, and I will
confirm it.
"I am your admirer,

There is something wonderfully pleasing in the favour of women; and
this letter has put me in so good a humour, that nothing could
displease me since I received it. My boy breaks glasses and pipes,
and instead of giving him a knock on the pate, as my way is, for I
hate scolding at servants, I only say, "Ah, Jack! thou hast a head,
and so has a pin," or some such merry expression. But, alas! how am
I mortified when he is putting on my fourth pair of stockings on
these poor spindles of mine! "The fair one understands love better
than I astronomy!" I am sure, without the help of that art, this
poor meagre trunk of mine is a very ill habitation for love. She is
pleased to speak civilly of my sense, but Ingenium male habitat is
an invincible difficulty in cases of this nature. I had always,
indeed, from a passion to please the eyes of the fair, a great
pleasure in dress. Add to this, that I have writ songs since I was
sixty, and have lived with all the circumspection of an old beau as
I am. But my friend Horace has very well said: "Every year takes
something from us;" and instructed me to form my pursuits and
desires according to the stage of my life; therefore, I have no more
to value myself upon, than that, I can converse with young people
without peevishness, or wishing myself a moment younger. For which
reason, when I am amongst them, I rather moderate than interrupt
their diversions. But though I have this complacency, I must not
pretend to write to a lady civil things, as Maria desires. Time
was, when I could have told her, "I had received a letter from her
fair hands; and that, if this paper trembled as she read it, it then
best expressed its author," or some other gay conceit. Though I
never saw her, I could have told her, "that good sense and
good-humour smiled in her eyes; that constancy and good-nature dwelt
in her heart; that beauty and good-breeding appeared in all her
actions." When I was five-and-twenty, upon sight of one syllable,
even wrong spelt, by a lady I never saw, I could tell her, "that her
height was that which was fit for inviting our approach, and
commanding our respect; that a smile sat on her lips, which prefaced
her expressions before she uttered them, and her aspect prevented
her speech. All she could say, though she had an infinite deal of
wit, was but a repetition of what was expressed by her form; her
form! which struck her beholders with ideas more moving and forcible
than ever were inspired by music, painting, or eloquence." At this
rate I panted in those days; but ah! sixty-three! I am very sorry I
can only return the agreeable Maria a passion expressed rather from
the head than the heart.

"You have already seen the best of me, and I so passionately
love you that I desire we may never meet. If you will examine your
heart, you will find that you join the man with the philosopher; and
if you have that kind opinion of my sense as you pretend, I question
not but you add to it complexion, air, and shape; but, dear Molly, a
man in his grand climacteric is of no sex. Be a good girl, and
conduct yourself with honour and virtue, when you love one younger
than myself. I am, with the greatest tenderness, your innocent
lover, I. B."


From my own Apartment, October 25.

When I came home last night my servant delivered me the following

"I have orders from Sir Harry Quickset, of Staffordshire,
Baronet, to acquaint you that his honour Sir Harry himself, Sir
Giles Wheelbarrow, Knight, Thomas Rentfree, Esquire, Justice of the
Quorum, Andrew Windmill, Esquire, and Mr. Nicholas Doubt, of the
Inner Temple, Sir Harry's grandson, will wait upon you at the hour
of nine to-morrow morning, being Tuesday the twenty-fifth of
October, upon business which Sir Harry will impart to you by word of
mouth. I thought it proper to acquaint you beforehand so many
persons of quality came, that you might not be surprised therewith.
Which concludes, though by many years' absence since I saw you at
Stafford, unknown, Sir, your most humble servant,
"October 24."

I received this message with less surprise than I believe Mr.
Thrifty imagined; for I knew the good company too well to feel any
palpitations at their approach; but I was in very great concern how
I should adjust the ceremonial, and demean myself to all these great
men, who perhaps had not seen anything above themselves for these
twenty years last past. I am sure that is the case of Sir Harry.
Besides which, I was sensible that there was a great point in
adjusting my behaviour to the simple esquire, so as to give him
satisfaction and not disoblige the justice of the quorum.

The hour of nine was come this morning, and I had no sooner set
chairs, by the steward's letter, and fixed my tea-equipage, but I
heard a knock at my door, which was opened, but no one entered;
after which followed a long silence, which was broke at last by,
"Sir, I beg your pardon; I think I know better," and another voice,
"Nay, good Sir Giles--" I looked out from my window, and saw the
good company all with their hats off and arms spread, offering the
door to each other. After many offers, they entered with much
solemnity, in the order Mr. Thrifty was so kind as to name them to
me. But they are now got to my chamber-door, and I saw my old
friend Sir Harry enter. I met him with all the respect due to so
reverend a vegetable; for you are to know that is my sense of a
person who remains idle in the same place for half a century. I got
him with great success into his chair by the fire, without throwing
down any of my cups. The knight-bachelor told me "he had a great
respect for my whole family, and would, with my leave, place himself
next to Sir Harry, at whose right hand he had sat at every
quarter-sessions these thirty years, unless he was sick." The
steward in the rear whispered the young templar, "That is true to my
knowledge." I had the misfortune, as they stood cheek by jowl, to
desire the esquire to sit down before the justice of the quorum, to
the no small satisfaction of the former, and resentment of the
latter. But I saw my error too late, and got them as soon as I
could into their seats. "Well," said I, "gentlemen, after I have
told you how glad I am of this great honour, I am to desire you to
drink a dish of tea." They answered one and all, "that they never
drank tea in a morning." "Not in a morning!" said I, staring round
me; upon which the pert jackanapes, Nic Doubt, tipped me the wink,
and put out his tongue at his grandfather. Here followed a profound
silence, when the steward in his boots and whip proposed, "that we
should adjourn to some public house, where everybody might call for
what they pleased, and enter upon the business." We all stood up in
an instant, and Sir Harry filed off from the left, very discreetly,
countermarching behind the chairs towards the door. After him Sir
Giles in the same manner. The simple esquire made a sudden start to
follow, but the justice of the quorum whipped between upon the stand
of the stairs. A maid, going up with coals, made us halt, and put
us into such confusion that we stood all in a heap, without any
visible possibility of recovering our order; for the young
jackanapes seemed to make a jest of this matter, and had so
contrived, by pressing amongst us under pretence of making way, that
his grandfather was got into the middle, and he knew nobody was of
quality to stir a step till Sir Harry moved first. We were fixed in
this perplexity for some time, till we heard a very loud noise in
the street, and Sir Harry asking what it was, I, to make them move,
said it was fire. Upon this, all ran down as fast as they could,
without order or ceremony, till we got into the street, where we
drew up in very good order, and filed off down Sheer Lane; the
impertinent templar driving us before him as in a string, and
pointing to his acquaintance who passed by.

I must confess I love to use people according to their own sense of
good breeding, and therefore whipped in between the justice and the
simple esquire. He could not properly take this ill, but I
overheard him whisper the steward, "that he thought it hard that a
common conjuror should take place of him, though an elder esquire."
In this order we marched down Sheer Lane, at the upper end of which
I lodge.

When we came to Temple Bar, Sir Harry and Sir Giles got over, but a
run of coaches kept the rest of us on this side the street.
However, we all at last landed, and drew up in very good order
before Ben Tooke's shop, who favoured our rallying with great
humanity; from whence we proceeded again till we came to Dick's
coffee-house, where I designed to carry them. Here we were at our
old difficulty, and took up the street upon the same ceremony. We
proceeded through the entry, and were so necessarily kept in order
by the situation, that we were now got into the coffee-house itself,
where, as soon as we arrived we repeated our civilities to each
other, after which, we marched up to the high table, which has an
ascent to it enclosed in the middle of the room. The whole house
was alarmed at this entry, made up of persons of so much state and
rusticity. Sir Harry called for a mug of ale and Dyer's Letter.
The boy brought the ale in an instant, but said they did not take in
the Letter. "No!" says Sir Harry, "then take back your mug; we are
like indeed to have good liquor at this house!" Here the templar
tipped me a second wink, and, if I had not looked very grave upon
him, I found he was disposed to be very familiar with me. In short,
I observed after a long pause, that the gentlemen did not care to
enter upon business till after their morning draught, for which
reason I called for a bottle of mum, and finding that had no effect
upon them, I ordered a second and a third, after which Sir Harry
reached over to me and told me in a low voice, "that the place was
too public for business, but he would call upon me again to-morrow
morning at my own lodgings, and bring some more friends with him."


From my own Apartment, November 11.

I had several hints and advertisements from unknown hands, that
some, who are enemies to my labours, design to demand the
fashionable way of satisfaction for the disturbance my Lucubrations
have given them. I confess, as things now stand, I do not know how
to deny such inviters, and am preparing myself accordingly. I have
bought pumps and foils, and am every morning practising in my
chamber. My neighbour, the dancing-master, has demanded of me why I
take this liberty, since I would not allow it him? but I answered,
"His was an act of an indifferent nature, and mine of necessity."
My late treatises against duels have so far disobliged the
fraternity of the noble science of defence, that I can get none of
them to show me so much as one pass. I am, therefore, obliged to
learn by book; and have accordingly several volumes, wherein all the
postures are exactly delineated. I must confess I am shy of letting
people see me at this exercise, because of my flannel waistcoat, and
my spectacles, which I am forced to fix on, the better to observe
the posture of the enemy.

I have upon my chamber-walls drawn at full length the figures of all
sorts of men, from eight foot to three foot two inches. Within this
height, I take it, that all the fighting men of Great Britain are
comprehended. But, as I push, I make allowances for my being of a
lank and spare body, and have chalked out in every figure my own
dimensions: for I scorn to rob any man of his life, or to take
advantage of his breadth: therefore, I press purely in a line down
from his nose, and take no more of him to assault than he has of me:
for, to speak impartially, if a lean fellow wounds a fat one in any
part to the right or left, whether it be in carte or in tierce,
beyond the dimensions of the said lean fellow's own breadth, I take
it to be murder, and such a murder as is below a gentleman to
commit. As I am spare, I am also very tall, and behave myself with
relation to that advantage with the same punctilio; and I am ready
to stoop or stand, according to the stature of my adversary. I must
confess I have had great success this morning, and have hit every
figure round the room in a mortal part, without receiving the least
hurt, except a little scratch by falling on my face, in pushing at
one at the lower end of my chamber; but I recovered so quick, and
jumped so nimbly into my guard, that, if he had been alive, he could
not have hurt me. It is confessed I have writ against duels with
some warmth; but in all my discourses I have not ever said that I
knew how a gentleman could avoid a duel if he were provoked to it;
and since that custom is now become a law, I know nothing but the
legislative power, with new animadversions upon it, can put us in a
capacity of denying challenges, though we are afterwards hanged for
it. But, no more of this at present. As things stand, I shall put
up no more affronts; and I shall be so far from taking ill words,
that I will not take ill looks. I therefore, warn all hot young
fellows not to look hereafter more terrible than their neighbours:
for, if they stare at me with their hats cocked higher than other
people, I will not bear it. Nay, I give warning to all people in
general to look kindly at me, for I will bear no frowns, even from
ladies; and if any woman pretends to look scornfully at me, I shall
demand satisfaction of the next of kin of the masculine gender.


From my own Apartment, November 16.

There are several persons who have many pleasures and entertainments
in their possession, which they do not enjoy. It is, therefore, a
kind and good office to acquaint them with their own happiness, and
turn their attention to such instances of their good fortune which
they are apt to overlook. Persons in the married state often want
such a monitor; and pine away their days, by looking upon the same
condition in anguish and murmur, which carries with it in the
opinion of others a complication of all the pleasures of life, and a
retreat from its inquietudes.

I am led into this thought by a visit I made an old friend, who was
formerly my school-fellow. He came to town last week with his
family for the winter, and yesterday morning sent me word his wife
expected me to dinner. I am, as it were, at home at that house, and
every member of it knows me for their well-wisher. I cannot,
indeed, express the pleasure it is to be met by the children with so
much joy as I am when I go thither. The boys and girls strive who
shall come first when they think it is I that am knocking at the
door; and that child which loses the race to me runs back again to
tell the father it is Mr. Bickerstaff. This day I was led in by a
pretty girl, that we all thought must have forgot me, for the family
has been out of town these two years. Her knowing me again was a
mighty subject with us, and took up our discourse at the first
entrance. After which they began to rally me upon a thousand little
stories they heard in the country about my marriage to one of my
neighbour's daughters. Upon which the gentleman, my friend, said,
"Nay, if Mr. Bickerstaff marries a child of any of his old
companions, I hope mine shall have the preference: there is Mrs.
Mary is now sixteen, and would make him as fine a widow as the best
of them. But I know him too well; he is so enamoured with the very
memory of those who flourished in our youth, that he will not so
much as look upon the modern beauties. I remember, old gentleman,
how often you went home in a day to refresh your countenance and
dress, when Teraminta reigned in your heart. As we came up in the
coach, I repeated to my wife some of your verses on her." With such
reflections on little passages, which happened long ago, we passed
our time, during a cheerful and elegant meal. After dinner his lady
left the room, as did also the children. As soon as we were alone,
he took me by the hand; "Well, my good friend," says he, "I am
heartily glad to see thee: I was afraid you would never have seen
all the company that dined with you to-day again. Do not you think
the good woman of the house a little altered, since you followed her
from the play-house, to find out who she was for me?" I perceived a
tear fall down his cheek as he spoke, which moved me not a little.
But, to turn the discourse, said I, "She is not indeed quite that
creature she was, when she returned me the letter I carried from
you: and told me 'she hoped, as I was a gentleman, I would be
employed no more to trouble her, who had never offended me; but
would be so much the gentleman's friend as to dissuade him from a
pursuit which he could never succeed in.' You may remember I
thought her in earnest, and you were forced to employ your cousin
Will, who made his sister get acquainted with her for you. You
cannot expect her to be for ever fifteen." "Fifteen!" replied my
good friend; "ah! you little understand, you that have lived a
bachelor, how great, how exquisite a pleasure there is, in being
really beloved! It is impossible, that the most beauteous face in
nature should raise in me such pleasing ideas, as when I look upon
that excellent woman. That fading in her countenance is chiefly
caused by her watching with me, in my fever. This was followed by a
fit of sickness, which had like to have carried her off last winter.
I tell you sincerely, I have so many obligations to her, that I
cannot, with any sort of moderation, think of her present state of
health. But as to what you say of fifteen, she gives me every day
pleasures beyond what I ever knew in the possession of her beauty,
when I was in the vigour of youth. Every moment of her life brings
me fresh instances of her complacency to my inclinations, and her
prudence in regard to my fortune. Her face is to me much more
beautiful than when I first saw it; there is no decay in any
feature, which I cannot trace from the very instant it was
occasioned by some anxious concern for my welfare and interests.
Thus, at the same time, methinks, the love I conceived towards her
for what she was, is heightened by my gratitude for what she is.
The love of a wife is as much above the idle passion commonly called
by that name, as the loud laughter of buffoons is inferior to the
elegant mirth of gentlemen. Oh! she is an inestimable jewel. In
her examination of her household affairs she shows a certain
fearfulness to find a fault, which makes her servants obey her like
children: and the meanest we have has an ingenuous shame for an
offence, not always to be seen in children in other families. I
speak freely to you, my old friend: ever since her sickness, things
that gave me the quickest joy before turn now to a certain anxiety.
As the children play in the next room, I know the poor things by
their steps, and am considering what they must do, should they lose
their mother in their tender years. The pleasure I used to take in
telling my boy stories of the battles, and asking my girl questions
about the disposal of her baby, and the gossiping of it, is turned
into inward reflection and melancholy."

He would have gone on in this tender way, when the good lady
entered, and, with an inexpressible sweetness in her countenance,
told us "she had been searching her closet for something very good,
to treat such an old friend as I was." Her husband's eyes sparkled
with pleasure at the cheerfulness of her countenance; and I saw all
his fears vanish in an instant. The lady observing something in our
looks which showed we had been more serious than ordinary, and
seeing her husband receive her with great concern under a forced
cheerfulness, immediately guessed at what we had been talking of;
and applying herself to me, said, with a smile, "Mr. Bickerstaff, do
not believe a word of what he tells you. I shall still live to have
you for my second, as I have often promised you, unless he takes
more care of himself than he has done since his coming to town. You
must know he tells me that he finds London is a much more healthy
place than the country, for he sees several of his old acquaintances
and school-fellows are here young fellows with fair full-bottomed
periwigs. I could scarce keep him this morning from going out
open-breasted." My friend, who is always extremely delighted with
her agreeable humour, made her sit down with us. She did it with
that easiness which is peculiar to women of sense; and to keep up
the good humour she had brought in with her, turned her raillery
upon me. "Mr. Bickerstaff, you remember you followed me one night
from the play-house; suppose you should carry me thither to-morrow
night, and lead me into the front box." This put us into a long
field of discourse about the beauties, who were mothers to the
present, and shined in the boxes twenty years ago. I told her, "I
was glad she had transferred so many of her charms, and I did not
question but her eldest daughter was within half a year of being a

We were pleasing ourselves with this fantastical preferment of the
young lady, when on a sudden we were alarmed with the noise of a
drum, and immediately entered my little godson to give me a point of
war. His mother, between laughing and chiding, would have put him
out of the room; but I would not part with him so. I found upon
conversation with him, though he was a little noisy in his mirth,
that the child had excellent parts, and was a great master of all
the learning on the other side eight years old. I perceived him a
very great historian in AEsop's Fables: but he frankly declared to
me his mind, that he did not delight in that learning, because he
did not believe they were true; for which reason I found he had very
much turned his studies for about a twelve-month past, into the
lives and adventures of Don Bellianis of Greece, Guy of Warwick, the
Seven Champions, and other historians of that age. I could not but
observe the satisfaction the father took in the forwardness of his
son; and that these diversions might turn to some profit, I found
the boy had made remarks which might be of service to him during the
course of his whole life. He would tell you the mis-managements of
John Hickathrift, find fault with the passionate temper in Bevis of
Southampton, and loved Saint George for being the champion of
England; and by this means had his thoughts insensibly moulded into
the notions of discretion, virtue, and honour. I was extolling his
accomplishments, when the mother told me that the little girl who
led me in this morning was in her way a better scholar than he.
"Betty," says she, "deals chiefly in fairies and sprites, and
sometimes in a winter-night will terrify the maids with her
accounts, till they are afraid to go up to bed."

I sat with them till it was very late, sometimes in merry, sometimes
in serious, discourse, with this particular pleasure, which gives
the only true relish to all conversation, a sense that every one of
us liked each other. I went home, considering the different
conditions of a married life and that of a bachelor; and I must
confess it struck me with a secret concern, to reflect, that
whenever I go off I shall leave no traces behind me. In this
pensive mood I return to my family; that is to say, to my maid, my
dog, and my cat, who only can be the better or worse for what
happens to me.


From my own Apartment, November 17.

It has cost me very much care and thought to marshal and fix the
people under their proper denominations, and to range them according
to their respective characters. These my endeavours have been
received with unexpected success in one kind, but neglected in
another; for though I have many readers, I have but few converts.
This must certainly proceed from a false opinion, that what I write
is designed rather to amuse and entertain than convince and
instruct. I entered upon my Essays with a declaration that I should
consider mankind in quite another manner than they had hitherto been
represented to the ordinary world, and asserted that none but a
useful life should be, with me, any life at all. But, lest this
doctrine should have made this small progress towards the conviction
of mankind, because it may appear to the unlearned light and
whimsical, I must take leave to unfold the wisdom and antiquity of
my first proposition in these my essays, to wit, that "every
worthless man is a dead man." This notion is as old as Pythagoras,
in whose school it was a point of discipline, that if among the
Akoustikoi, * or probationers, there were any who grew weary of
studying to be useful, and returned to an idle life, the rest were
to regard them as dead, and upon their departing, to perform their
obsequies and raise them tombs, with inscriptions, to warn others of
the like mortality, and quicken them to resolutions of refining
their souls above that wretched state. It is upon a like
supposition that young ladies, at this very time, in Roman Catholic
countries, are received into some nunneries with their coffins, and
with the pomp of a formal funeral, to signify that henceforth they
are to be of no further use, and consequently dead. Nor was
Pythagoras himself the first author of this symbol, with whom, and
with the Hebrews, it was generally received. Much more might be
offered in illustration of this doctrine from sacred authority,
which I recommend to my reader's own reflection; who will easily
recollect, from places which I do not think fit to quote here, the
forcible manner of applying the words dead and living to men, as
they are good or bad.

* Anglicised version of the author's original Greek text.

I have, therefore, composed the following scheme of existence for
the benefit both of the living and the dead; though chiefly for the
latter, whom I must desire to read it with all possible attention.
In the number of the dead I comprehend all persons, of what title or
dignity soever, who bestow most of their time in eating and
drinking, to support that imaginary existence of theirs which they
call life; or in dressing and adorning those shadows and
apparitions, which are looked upon by the vulgar as real men and
women. In short, whoever resides in the world without having any
business in it, and passes away an age without ever thinking on the
errand for which he was sent hither, is to me a dead man to all
intents and purposes, and I desire that he may be so reputed. The
living are only those that are some way or other laudably employed
in the improvement of their own minds, or for the advantage of
others; and even among these, I shall only reckon into their lives
that part of their time which has been spent in the manner above
mentioned. By these means, I am afraid we shall find the longest
lives not to consist of many months, and the greatest part of the
earth to be quite unpeopled. According to this system we may
observe that some men are born at twenty years of age, some at
thirty, some at threescore, and some not above an hour before they
die; nay, we may observe multitudes that die without ever being
born, as well as many dead persons that fill up the bulk of mankind,
and make a better figure in the eyes of the ignorant, than those who
are alive, and in their proper and full state of health. However,
since there may be many good subjects, that pay their taxes, and
live peaceably in their habitations, who are not yet born, or have
departed this life several years since, my design is to encourage
both to join themselves as soon as possible to the number of the
living. For as I invite the former to break forth into being and
become good for something, so I allow the latter a state of
resuscitation, which I chiefly mention for the sake of a person who
has lately published an advertisement, with several scurrilous terms
in it, that do by no means become a dead man to give. It is my
departed friend, John Partridge, who concludes the advertisement of
his next year's almanack with the following note:

"Whereas it has been industriously given out by Bickerstaff,
Esquire, and others, to prevent the sale of this year's almanack,
that John Partridge is dead: this may inform all his loving
countrymen, that he is still living in health, and they are knaves
that reported it otherwise.
"J. P."


From my own Apartment, November

I have already taken great pains to inspire notions of honour and
virtue into the people of this kingdom, and used all gentle methods
imaginable, to bring those who are dead in idleness, folly, and
pleasure, into life, by applying themselves to learning, wisdom, and
industry. But, since fair means are ineffectual, I must proceed to
extremities, and shall give my good friends, the Company of
Upholders, full power to bury all such dead as they meet with, who
are within my former descriptions of deceased persons. In the
meantime the following remonstrance of that corporation I take to be
very just.

"Upon reading your Tatler of Saturday last, by which we
received the agreeable news of so many deaths, we immediately
ordered in a considerable quantity of blacks, and our servants have
wrought night and day ever since to furnish out the necessaries for
these deceased. But so it is, Sir, that of this vast number of dead
bodies that go putrifying up and down the streets, not one of them
has come to us to be buried. Though we should be loth to be any
hindrance to our good friends the physicians, yet we cannot but take
notice what infection Her Majesty's subjects are liable to from the
horrible stench of so many corpses. Sir, we will not detain you;
our case in short is this: Here are we embarked in this undertaking
for the public good. Now, if people should be suffered to go on
unburied at this rate, there is an end of the usefullest
manufactures and handicrafts of the kingdom; for where will be your
sextons, coffin-makers, and plumbers? What will become of your
embalmers, epitaph-mongers, and chief-mourners? We are loth to
drive this matter any farther, though we tremble at the consequences
of it; for if it shall be left to every dead man's discretion not to
be buried till he sees his time, no man can say where that will end;
but thus much we will take upon us to affirm, that such a toleration
will be intolerable.
"What would make us easy in this matter is no more but that
your Worship would be pleased to issue out your orders to ditto Dead
to repair forthwith to our office, in order to their interment,
where constant attendance shall be given to treat with all persons
according to their quality, and the poor to be buried for nothing.
And, for the convenience of such persons as are willing enough to be
dead, but that they are afraid their friends and relations should
know it, we have a back door into Warwick Street, from whence they
may be interred with all secrecy imaginable, and without loss of
time or hindrance of business. But in case of obstinacy, for we
would gladly make a thorough riddance, we desire a farther power
from your Worship, to take up such deceased as shall not have
complied with your first orders wherever we meet them; and if, after
that, there shall be complaints of any person so offending, let them
lie at our doors.
"We are your Worship's till death,
"P.S. We are ready to give in our printed proposals at large,
and if your Worship approves of our undertaking, we desire the
following advertisement may be inserted in your next paper:
"Whereas a commission of interment has been awarded against
Doctor John Partridge, philomath, professor of physic and astrology,
and whereas the said Partridge hath not surrendered himself, nor
shown cause to the contrary: These are to certify that the Company
of Upholders will proceed to bury him from Cordwainer's Hall, on
Tuesday the twenty-ninth instant, where any six of his surviving
friends, who still believe him to be alive, are desired to come
prepared to hold up the pall.
"Note. We shall light away at six in the evening, there being
to be a sermon.
"From our Office near the Haymarket, Nov. 23."


Sheer Lane, December 30.

I was walking about my chamber this morning in a very gay humour,
when I saw a coach stop at my door, and a youth about fifteen
alighting out of it, who I perceived to be the eldest son of my
bosom friend, that I gave some account of in a previous paper. I
felt a sensible pleasure rising in me at the sight of him, my
acquaintance having begun with his father when he was just such a
stripling, and about that very age. When he came up to me, he took
me by the hand, and burst into tears. I was extremely moved, and
immediately said, "Child, how does your father do?" He began to
reply, "My mother--" but could not go on for weeping. I went down
with him into the coach, and gathered out of him, "That his mother
was then dying; and that, while the holy man was doing the last
offices to her, he had taken that time to come and call me to his
father, who, he said, would certainly break his heart, if I did not
go and comfort him." The child's discretion in coming to me of his
own head, and the tenderness he showed for his parents would have
quite overpowered me, had I not resolved to fortify myself for the
seasonable performances of those duties which I owed to my friend.
As we were going, I could not but reflect upon the character of that
excellent woman, and the greatness of his grief for the loss of one
who has ever been the support to him under all other afflictions.
How, thought I, will he be able to bear the hour of her death, that
could not, when I was lately with him, speak of a sickness, which
was then past, without sorrow! We were now got pretty far into
Westminster, and arrived at my friend's house. At the door of it I
met Favonius, not without a secret satisfaction to find he had been
there. I had formerly conversed with him at his house; and as he
abounds with that sort of virtue and knowledge which makes religion
beautiful, and never leads the conversation into the violence and
rage of party disputes, I listened to him with great pleasure. Our
discourse chanced to be upon the subject of death, which he treated
with such a strength of reason, and greatness of soul, that, instead
of being terrible, it appeared to a mind rightly cultivated,
altogether to be contemned, or rather to be desired. As I met him
at the door, I saw in his face a certain glowing of grief and
humanity, heightened with an air of fortitude and resolution, which,
as I afterwards found, had such an irresistible force, as to suspend
the pains of the dying, and the lamentation of the nearest friends
who attended her. I went up directly to the room where she lay, and
was met at the entrance by my friend, who, notwithstanding his
thoughts had been composed a little before, at the sight of me
turned away his face and wept. The little family of children
renewed the expressions of their sorrow according to their several
ages and degrees of understanding. The eldest daughter was in
tears, busied in attendance upon her mother; others were kneeling
about the bedside: and what troubled me most, was, to see a little


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