The other Day as I passed along the Street, I saw a sturdy Prentice-Boy Disputing with an Hackney-Coachman; and in an Instant, upon some Word of Provocation, throw off his Hat and [Cut-Periwig, ] clench his Fist, and strike the Fellow a Slap on the Face; at the same time calling him Rascal, and telling him he was a Gentleman's Son. The young Gentleman was, it seems, bound to a Blacksmith; and the Debate arose about Payment for some Work done about a Coach, near which they Fought. His Master, during the Combat, was full of his Boy's Praises; and as he called to him to play with his Hand and Foot, and throw in his Head, he made all us who stood round him of his Party, by declaring the Boy had very good Friends, and he could trust him with untold Gold. As I am generally in the Theory of Mankind, I could not but make my Reflections upon the sudden Popularity which was raised about the Lad; and perhaps, with my Friend Tacitus, fell into Observations upon it, which were too great for the Occasion; or ascribed this general Favour to Causes which had nothing to do towards it. But the young Blacksmith's being a Gentleman was, methought, what created him good Will from his present Equality with the Mob about him: Add to this, that he was not so much a Gentleman, as not, at the same time that he called himself such, to use as rough Methods for his Defence as his Antagonist. The Advantage of his having good Friends, as his Master expressed it, was not lazily urged; but he shewed himself superior to the Coachman in the personal Qualities of Courage and Activity, to confirm that of his being well allied, before his Birth was of any Service to him.
If one might Moralize from this silly Story, a Man would say, that whatever Advantages of Fortune, Birth, or any other Good, People possess above the rest of the World, they should shew collateral Eminences besides those Distinctions; or those Distinctions will avail only to keep up common Decencies and Ceremonies, and not to preserve a real Place of Favour or Esteem in the Opinion and common Sense of their Fellow-Creatures.
The Folly of People's Procedure, in imagining that nothing more is necessary than Property and superior Circumstances to support them in Distinction, appears in no way so much as in the Domestick part of Life. It is ordinary to feed their Humours into unnatural Excrescences, if I may so speak, and make their whole Being a wayward and uneasy Condition, for want of the obvious Reflection that all Parts of Human Life is a Commerce. It is not only paying Wages, and giving Commands, that constitutes a Master of a Family; but Prudence, equal Behaviour, with Readiness to protect and cherish them, is what entitles a Man to that Character in their very Hearts and Sentiments. It is pleasant enough to Observe, that Men expect from their Dependants, from their sole Motive of Fear, all the good Effects which a liberal Education, and affluent Fortune, and every other Advantage, cannot produce in themselves. A Man will have his Servant just, diligent, sober and chaste, for no other Reasons but the Terrour of losing his Master's Favour; when all the Laws Divine and Human cannot keep him whom he serves within Bounds, with relation to any one of those Virtues. But both in great and ordinary Affairs, all Superiority, which is not founded on Merit and Virtue, is supported only by Artifice and Stratagem. Thus you see Flatterers are the Agents in Families of Humourists, and those who govern themselves by any thing but Reason. Make-Bates, distant Relations, poor Kinsmen, and indigent Followers, are the Fry which support the Oeconomy of an humoursome rich Man. He is eternally whispered with Intelligence of who are true or false to him in Matters of no Consequence, and he maintains twenty Friends to defend him against the Insinuations of one who would perhaps cheat him of an old Coat.
I shall not enter into farther Speculation upon this Subject at present, but think the following Letters and Petition are made up of proper Sentiments on this Occasion.
I am a Servant to an old Lady who is governed by one she calls her Friend; who is so familiar an one, that she takes upon her to advise her without being called to it, and makes her uneasie with all about her. Pray, Sir, be pleased to give us some Remarks upon voluntary Counsellors; and let these People know that to give any Body Advice, is to say to that Person, I am your Betters. Pray, Sir, as near as you can, describe that eternal Flirt and Disturber of Families, Mrs. Taperty, who is always visiting, and putting People in a Way, as they call it. If you can make her stay at home one Evening, you will be a general Benefactor to all the Ladies Women in Town, and particularly to
Your loving Friend,
'I am a Footman, and live with one of those Men, each of whom is said to be one of the best humoured Men in the World, but that he is passionate. Pray be pleased to inform them, that he who is passionate, and takes no Care to command his Hastiness, does more Injury to his Friends and Servants in one half Hour, than whole Years can attone for. This Master of mine, who is the best Man alive in common Fame, disobliges Some body every Day he lives; and strikes me for the next thing I do, because he is out of Humour at it. If these Gentlemen [knew ] that they do all the Mischief that is ever done in Conversation, they would reform; and I who have been a Spectator of Gentlemen at Dinner for many Years, have seen that Indiscretion does ten times more Mischief than Ill-nature. But you will represent this better than Your abused
To the SPECTATOR,
The humble Petition of John Steward, Robert Butler, Harry Cook, and Abigail Chambers, in Behalf of themselves and their Relations, belonging to and dispersed in the several Services of most of the great Families within the Cities of London and Westminster;
That in many of the Families in which your Petitioners live and are employed, the several Heads of them are wholly unacquainted with what is Business, and are very little Judges when they are well or ill used by us your said Petitioners.
That for want of such Skill in their own Affairs, and by Indulgence of their own Laziness and Pride, they continually keep about them certain mischievous Animals called Spies.
That whenever a Spy is entertained, the Peace of that House is from that Moment banished.
That Spies never give an Account of good Services, but represent our Mirth and Freedom by the Words Wantonness and Disorder.
That in all Families where there are Spies, there is a general Jealousy and Misunderstanding.
That the Masters and Mistresses of such Houses live in continual Suspicion of their ingenuous and true Servants, and are given up to the Management of those who are false and perfidious.
That such Masters and Mistresses who entertain Spies, are no longer more than Cyphers in their own Families; and that we your Petitioners are with great Disdain obliged to pay all our Respect, and expect all our Maintenance from such Spies.
Your Petitioners therefore most humbly pray, that you would represent the Premises to all Persons of Condition; and your Petitioners, as in Duty bound, shall for ever Pray, &c.
[Footnote 1: Perriwig]
[Footnote 2: "know", and in first reprint.]Translation of motto: