One common Calamity makes Men extremely affect each other, tho' they differ in every other Particular. The Passion of Love is the most general Concern among Men; and I am glad to hear by my last Advices from Oxford, that there are a Set of Sighers in that University, who have erected themselves into a Society in honour of that tender Passion. These Gentlemen are of that Sort of Inamoratos, who are not so very much lost to common Sense, but that they understand the Folly they are guilty of; and for that Reason separate themselves from all other Company, because they will enjoy the Pleasure of talking incoherently, without being ridiculous to any but each other. When a Man comes into the Club, he is not obliged to make any Introduction to his Discourse, but at once, as he is seating himself in his Chair, speaks in the Thread of his own Thoughts, 'She gave me a very obliging Glance, She Never look'd so well in her Life as this Evening,' or the like Reflection, without Regard to any other Members of the Society; for in this Assembly they do not meet to talk to each other, but every Man claims the full Liberty of talking to himself. Instead of Snuff-boxes and Canes, which are the usual Helps to Discourse with other young Fellows, these have each some Piece of Ribbon, a broken Fan, or an old Girdle, which they play with while they talk of the fair Person remember'd by each respective Token. According to the Representation of the Matter from my Letters, the Company appear like so many Players rehearsing behind the Scenes; one is sighing and lamenting his Destiny in beseeching Terms, another declaring he will break his Chain, and another in dumb-Show, striving to express his Passion by his Gesture. It is very ordinary in the Assembly for one of a sudden to rise and make a Discourse concerning his Passion in general, and describe the Temper of his Mind in such a Manner, as that the whole Company shall join in the Description, and feel the Force of it. In this Case, if any Man has declared the Violence of his Flame in more pathetick Terms, he is made President for that Night, out of respect to his superior Passion.
We had some Years ago in this Town a Set of People who met and dressed like Lovers, and were distinguished by the Name of the Fringe-Glove Club; but they were Persons of such moderate Intellects even before they were impaired by their Passion, that their Irregularities could not furnish sufficient Variety of Folly to afford daily new Impertinencies; by which Means that Institution dropp'd. These Fellows could express their Passion in nothing but their Dress; but the Oxonians are Fantastical now they are Lovers, in proportion to their Learning and Understanding before they became such. The Thoughts of the ancient Poets on this agreeable Phrenzy, are translated in honour of some modern Beauty; and Chloris is won to Day, by the same Compliment that was made to Lesbia a thousand Years ago. But as far as I can learn, the Patron of the Club is the renowned Don Quixote. The Adventures of that gentle Knight are frequently mention'd in the Society, under the colour of Laughing at the Passion and themselves: But at the same Time, tho' they are sensible of the Extravagancies of that unhappy Warrior, they do not observe, that to turn all the Reading of the best and wisest Writings into Rhapsodies of Love, is a Phrenzy no less diverting than that of the aforesaid accomplish'd Spaniard. A Gentleman who, I hope, will continue his Correspondence, is lately admitted into the Fraternity, and sent me the following Letter.
'Since I find you take Notice of Clubs, I beg Leave to give you an Account of one in Oxford, which you have no where mention'd, and perhaps never heard of. We distinguish our selves by the Title of the Amorous Club, are all Votaries of Cupid, and Admirers of the Fair Sex. The Reason that we are so little known in the World, is the Secrecy which we are obliged to live under in the University. Our Constitution runs counter to that of the Place wherein we live: For in Love there are no Doctors, and we all profess so high Passion, that we admit of no Graduates in it. Our Presidentship is bestow'd according to the Dignity of Passion; our Number is unlimited; and our Statutes are like those of the Druids, recorded in our own Breasts only, and explained by the Majority of the Company. A Mistress, and a Poem in her Praise, will introduce any Candidate: Without the latter no one can be admitted; for he that is not in love enough to rhime, is unqualified for our Society. To speak disrespectfully of any Woman, is Expulsion from our gentle Society. As we are at present all of us Gown-men, instead of duelling when we are Rivals, we drink together the Health of our Mistress. The Manner of doing this sometimes indeed creates Debates; on such Occasions we have Recourse to the Rules of Love among the Antients.
'Naevia sex Cyathis, septem Justina bibatur.'
This Method of a Glass to every Letter of her Name, occasioned the other Night a Dispute of some Warmth. A young Student, who is in Love with Mrs. Elizabeth Dimple, was so unreasonable as to begin her Health under the Name of Elizabetha; which so exasperated the Club, that by common Consent we retrenched it to Betty. We look upon a Man as no Company, that does not sigh five times in a Quarter of an Hour; and look upon a Member as very absurd, that is so much himself as to make a direct Answer to a Question. In fine, the whole Assembly is made up of absent Men, that is, of such Persons as have lost their Locality, and whose Minds and Bodies never keep Company with one another. As I am an unfortunate Member of this distracted Society, you cannot expect a very regular Account of it; for which Reason, I hope you will pardon me that I so abruptly subscribe my self,
Your most obedient,
I forgot to tell you, that Albina, who has six Votaries in this Club, is one of your Readers.'
[Footnote 1: To this number of the Spectator was added in the original daily issue an announcement of six places at which were to be sold 'Compleat Setts of this Paper for the Month of March.']Translation of motto: