No. 284. Friday, January 25, 1712. Steele.

[Posthabui tamen illorum mea seria Ludo.
Virg. [1]]

An unaffected Behaviour is without question a very great Charm; but under the Notion of being unconstrained and disengaged, People take upon them to be unconcerned in any Duty of Life. A general Negligence is what they assume upon all Occasions, and set up for an Aversion to all manner of Business and Attention. I am the carelessest Creature in the World, I have certainly the worst Memory of any Man living, are frequent Expressions in the Mouth of a Pretender of this sort. It is a professed Maxim with these People never to think; there is something so solemn in Reflexion, they, forsooth, can never give themselves Time for such a way of employing themselves. It happens often that this sort of Man is heavy enough in his Nature to be a good Proficient in such Matters as are attainable by Industry; but alas! he has such an ardent Desire to be what he is not, to be too volatile, to have the Faults of a Person of Spirit, that he professes himself the most unfit Man living for any manner of Application. When this Humour enters into the Head of a Female, she gently professes Sickness upon all Occasions, and acts all things with an indisposed Air: She is offended, but her Mind is too lazy to raise her to Anger, therefore she lives only as actuated by a violent Spleen and gentle Scorn. She has hardly Curiosity to listen to Scandal of her Acquaintance, and has never Attention enough to hear them commended. This Affectation in both Sexes makes them vain of being useless, and take a certain Pride in their Insignificancy.

Opposite to this Folly is another no less unreasonable, and that is the Impertinence of being always in a Hurry. There are those who visit Ladies, and beg Pardon afore they are well seated in their Chairs, that they just called in, but are obliged to attend Business of Importance elsewhere the very next Moment: Thus they run from Place to Place, professing that they are obliged to be still in another Company than that which they are in. These Persons who are just a going somewhere else should never be detained; [let [2]] all the World allow that Business is to be minded, and their Affairs will be at an end. Their Vanity is to be importuned, and Compliance with their Multiplicity of Affairs would effectually dispatch em. The Travelling Ladies, who have half the Town to see in an Afternoon, may be pardoned for being in constant Hurry; but it is inexcusable in Men to come where they have no Business, to profess they absent themselves where they have. It has been remarked by some nice Observers and Criticks, that there is nothing discovers the true Temper of a Person so much as his Letters. I have by me two Epistles, which are written by two People of the different Humours above-mentioned. It is wonderful that a Man cannot observe upon himself when he sits down to write, but that he will gravely commit himself to Paper the same Man that he is in the Freedom of Conversation. I have hardly seen a Line from any of these Gentlemen, but spoke them as absent from what they were doing, as they profess they are when they come into Company. For the Folly is, that they have perswaded themselves they really are busy. Thus their whole Time is spent in suspense of the present Moment to the next, and then from the next to the succeeding, which to the End of Life is to pass away with Pretence to many things, and Execution of nothing.


The Post is just going out, and I have many other Letters of very great Importance to write this Evening, but I could not omit making my Compliments to you for your Civilities to me when I was last in Town. It is my Misfortune to be so full of Business, that I cannot tell you a Thousand Things which I have to say to you. I must desire you to communicate the Contents of this to no one living; but believe me to be, with the greatest Fidelity,


Your most Obedient,

Humble Servant,

Stephen Courier.


I hate Writing, of all Things in the World; however, though I have drunk the Waters, and am told I ought not to use my Eyes so much, I cannot forbear writing to you, to tell you I have been to the last Degree hipped since I saw you. How could you entertain such a Thought, as that I should hear of that silly Fellow with Patience? Take my Word for it, there is nothing in it; and you may believe it when so lazy a Creature as I am undergo the Pains to assure you of it by taking Pen, Ink, and Paper in my Hand. Forgive this, you know I shall not often offend in this Kind. I am very much Your Servant, Bridget Eitherdown.

The Fellow is of your Country, prythee send me Word how ever whether he has so great an Estate.

Mr. SPECTATOR, Jan. 24, 1712.

I am Clerk of the Parish from whence Mrs. Simper sends her Complaint, in your Yesterdays Spectator. I must beg of you to publish this as a publick Admonition to the aforesaid Mrs. Simper, otherwise all my honest Care in the Disposition of the Greens in the Church will have no Effect: I shall therefore with your Leave lay before you the whole Matter. I was formerly, as she charges me, for several Years a Gardener in the County of Kent: But I must absolutely deny, that tis out of any Affection I retain for my old Employment that I have placed my Greens so liberally about the Church, but out of a particular Spleen I conceived against Mrs. Simper (and others of the same Sisterhood) some time ago. As to herself, I had one Day set the Hundredth Psalm, and was singing the first Line in order to put the Congregation into the Tune, she was all the while curtsying to Sir Anthony in so affected and indecent a manner, that the Indignation I conceived at it made me forget my self so far, as from the Tune of that Psalm to wander into Southwell Tune, and from thence into Windsor Tune, still unable to recover my self till I had with the utmost Confusion set a new one. Nay, I have often seen her rise up and smile and curtsy to one at the lower End of the Church in the midst of a Gloria Patri; and when I have spoke the Assent to a Prayer with a long Amen uttered with decent Gravity, she has been rolling her Eyes around about in such a Manner, as plainly shewed, however she was moved, it was not towards an Heavenly Object. In fine, she extended her Conquests so far over the Males, and raised such Envy in the Females, that what between Love of those and the Jealousy of these, I was almost the only Person that looked in the Prayer-Book all Church-time. I had several Projects in my Head to put a Stop to this growing Mischief; but as I have long lived in Kent, and there often heard how the Kentish Men evaded the Conqueror, by carrying green Boughs over their Heads, it put me in mind of practising this Device against Mrs. Simper. I find I have preserved many a young Man from her Eye-shot by this Means; therefore humbly pray the Boughs may be fixed, till she shall give Security for her peaceable Intentions.

Your Humble Servant,

Francis Sternhold.


[Footnote 1: [Strenua nos exercet inertia.---HOR.]

[Footnote 2: [but]]

Translation of motto:
VIRG. Ecl. vii. 17.
'Their mirth to share, I bid my business wait.'