No. 245. Tuesday, December 11, 1711. Addison.

Ficta Voluptatis causâ sint proxima Veris.

There is nothing which one regards so much with an Eye of Mirth and Pity as Innocence, when it has in it a Dash of Folly. At the same time that one esteems the Virtue, one is tempted to laugh at the Simplicity which accompanies it. When a Man is made up wholly of the Dove, without the least Grain of the Serpent in his Composition, he becomes ridiculous in many Circumstances of Life, and very often discredits his best Actions. The Cordeliers tell a Story of their Founder St. Francis, that as he passed the Streets in the Dusk of the Evening, he discovered a young Fellow with a Maid in a Corner; upon which the good Man, say they, lifted up his Hands to Heaven with a secret Thanksgiving, that there was still so much Christian Charity in the World. The Innocence of the Saint made him mistake the Kiss of a Lover for a Salute of Charity. I am heartily concerned when I see a virtuous Man without a competent Knowledge of the World; and if there be any Use in these my Papers, it is this, that without presenting Vice under any false alluring Notions, they give my Reader an Insight into the Ways of Men, and represent human Nature in all its changeable Colours. The Man who has not been engaged in any of the Follies of the World, or, as Shakespear expresses it, hackney'd in the Ways of Men, may here find a Picture of its Follies and Extravagancies. The Virtuous and the Innocent may know in Speculation what they could never arrive at by Practice, and by this Means avoid the Snares of the Crafty, the Corruptions of the Vicious, and the Reasonings of the Prejudiced. Their Minds may be opened without being vitiated.

It is with an Eye to my following Correspondent, Mr. Timothy Doodle, who seems a very well-meaning Man, that I have written this short Preface, to which I shall subjoin a Letter from the said Mr. Doodle.


I could heartily wish that you would let us know your Opinion upon several innocent Diversions which are in use among us, and which are very proper to pass away a Winter Night for those who do not care to throw away their Time at an Opera, or at the Play-house. I would gladly know in particular, what Notion you have of Hot-Cockles; as also whether you think that Questions and Commands, Mottoes, Similes, and Cross-Purposes have not more Mirth and Wit in them, than those publick Diversions which are grown so very fashionable among us. If you would recommend to our Wives and Daughters, who read your Papers with a great deal of Pleasure, some of those Sports and Pastimes that may be practised within Doors, and by the Fire-side, we who are Masters of Families should be hugely obliged to you. I need not tell you that I would have these Sports and Pastimes not only merry but innocent, for which Reason I have not mentioned either Whisk or Lanterloo, nor indeed so much as One and Thirty. After having communicated to you my Request upon this Subject, I will be so free as to tell you how my Wife and I pass away these tedious Winter Evenings with a great deal of Pleasure. Tho she be young and handsome, and good-humoured to a Miracle, she does not care for gadding abroad like others of her Sex. There is a very friendly Man, a Colonel in the Army, whom I am mightily obliged to for his Civilities, that comes to see me almost every Night; for he is not one of those giddy young Fellows that cannot live out of a Play-house. When we are together, we very often make a Party at Blind-Man's Buff, which is a Sport that I like the better, because there is a good deal of Exercise in it. The Colonel and I are blinded by Turns, and you would laugh your Heart out to see what Pains my Dear takes to hoodwink us, so that it is impossible for us to see the least Glimpse of Light. The poor Colonel sometimes hits his Nose against a Post, and makes us die with laughing. I have generally the good Luck not to hurt myself, but am very often above half an Hour before I can catch either of them; for you must know we hide ourselves up and down in Corners, that we may have the more Sport. I only give you this Hint as a Sample of such Innocent Diversions as I would have you recommend; and am, Most esteemed SIR, your ever loving Friend, Timothy Doodle.

The following Letter was occasioned by my last Thursdays Paper upon the Absence of Lovers, and the Methods therein mentioned of making such Absence supportable.


Among the several Ways of Consolation which absent Lovers make use of while their Souls are in that State of Departure, which you say is Death in Love, there are some very material ones that have escaped your Notice. Among these, the first and most received is a crooked Shilling, which has administered great Comfort to our Forefathers, and is still made use of on this Occasion with very good Effect in most Parts of Her Majesty's Dominions. There are some, I know, who think a Crown-Piece cut into two equal Parts, and preserved by the distant Lovers, is of more sovereign Virtue than the former. But since Opinions are divided in this Particular, why may not the same Persons make use of both? The Figure of a Heart, whether cut in Stone or cast in Metal, whether bleeding upon an Altar, stuck with Darts, or held in the Hand of a Cupid, has always been looked upon as Talismanick in Distresses of this Nature. I am acquainted with many a brave Fellow, who carries his Mistress in the Lid of his Snuff-box, and by that Expedient has supported himself under the Absence of a whole Campaign. For my own Part, I have tried all these Remedies, but never found so much Benefit from any as from a Ring, in which my Mistresss Hair is platted together very artificially in a kind of True-Lovers Knot. As I have received great Benefit from this Secret, I think myself obliged to communicate it to the Publick, for the Good of my Fellow-Subjects. I desire you will add this Letter as an Appendix to your Consolations upon Absence, and am, Your very humble Servant, T. B.

I shall conclude this Paper with a Letter from an University Gentleman, occasioned by my last Tuesdays Paper, wherein I gave some Account of the great Feuds which happened formerly in those learned Bodies, between the modern Greeks and Trojans.


This will give you to understand, that there is at present in the Society, whereof I am a Member, a very considerable Body of Trojans, who, upon a proper Occasion, would not fail to declare ourselves. In the mean while we do all we can to annoy our Enemies by Stratagem, and are resolved by the first Opportunity to attack Mr. Joshua Barnes [1], whom we look upon as the Achilles of the opposite Party. As for myself, I have had the Reputation ever since I came from School, of being a trusty Trojan, and am resolved never to give Quarter to the smallest Particle of Greek, where-ever I chance to meet it. It is for this Reason I take it very ill of you, that you sometimes hang out Greek Colours at the Head of your Paper, and sometimes give a Word of the Enemy even in the Body of it. When I meet with any thing of this nature, I throw down your Speculations upon the Table, with that Form of Words which we make use of when we declare War upon an Author.

_Græcum est, non potest legi._ [2]

I give you this Hint, that you may for the future abstain from any such Hostilities at your Peril.



[Footnote 1: Professor of Greek at Cambridge, who edited Homer, Euripides, Anacreon, &c., and wrote in Greek verse a History of Esther. He died in 1714.]

[Footnote 2:

It is Greek. It cannot be read.

This passed into a proverb from Franciscus Accursius, a famous Jurisconsult and son of another Accursius, who was called the Idol of the Jurisconsults. Franciscus Accursius was a learned man of the 13th century, who, in expounding Justinian, whenever he came to one of Justinian's quotations from Homer, said Græcum est, nec potest legi. Afterwards, in the first days of the revival of Greek studies in Europe, it was often said, as reported by Claude d'Espence, for example, that to know anything of Greek made a man suspected, to know anything of Hebrew almost made him a heretic.]

Translation of motto:
HOR. Ars Poet. v. 338.
'Fictions, to please, should wear the face of truth.'