No. 424. Monday, July 7, 1712. Steele

Est Ulubris, animus si te non deficit--'

London, June 24.

Mr. Spectator,

'A man who has it in his Power to chuse his own Company, would certainly be much to blame should he not, to the best of his Judgment, take such as are of a Temper most suitable to his own; and where that Choice is wanting, or where a Man is mistaken in his Choice, and yet under a Necessity of continuing in the same Company, it will certainly be to his Interest to carry himself as easily as possible.

'In this I am sensible I do but repeat what has been said a thousand times, at which however I think no Body has any Title to take Exception, but they who never failed to put this in Practice--Not to use any longer Preface, this being the Season of the Year in which great Numbers of all sorts of People retire from this Place of Business and Pleasure to Country Solitude, I think it not improper to advise them to take with them as great a Stock of Good-humour as they can; for tho' a Country-Life is described as the most pleasant of all others, and though it may in Truth be so, yet it is so only to those who know how to enjoy Leisure and Retirement.

'As for those who can't live without the constant helps of Business or Company, let them consider, that in the Country there is no Exchange, there are no Play-houses, no Variety of Coffee-houses, nor many of those other Amusements which serve here as so many Reliefs from the repeated Occurrences in their own Families; but that there the greatest Part of their Time must be spent within themselves, and consequently it behoves them to consider how agreeable it will be to them before they leave this dear Town.

'I remember, Mr. SPECTATOR, we were very well entertained last Year, with the Advices you gave us from Sir ROGER'S Country Seat; which I the rather mention, because 'tis almost impossible not to live pleasantly, where the Master of a Family is such a one as you there describe your Friend, who cannot therefore (I mean as to his domestick Character) be too often recommended to the Imitation of others. How amiable is that Affability and Benevolence with which he treats his Neighbours, and every one, even the meanest of his own Family! And yet how seldom imitated? instead of which we commonly meet with ill-natured Expostulations, Noise, and Chidings--And this I hinted, because the Humour and Disposition of the Head, is what chiefly influences all the other Parts of a Family.

'An Agreement and kind Correspondence between Friends and Acquaintance, is the greatest Pleasure of Life. This is an undoubted Truth, and yet any Man who judges from the Practice of the World, will be almost persuaded to believe the contrary; for how can we suppose People should be so industrious to make themselves uneasie? What can engage them to entertain and foment Jealousies of one another upon every the least Occasion? Yet so it is, there are People who (as it should seem) delight in being troublesome and vexatious, who (as Tully speaks) Mira sunt alacritate ad litigandum, Have a certain Chearfulness in wrangling. And thus it happens, that there are very few Families in which there are not Feuds and Animosities, tho' 'tis every one's Interest, there more particularly, to avoid 'em, because there (as I would willingly hope) no one gives another Uneasiness, without feeling some share of it--But I am gone beyond what I designed, and had almost forgot what I chiefly proposed; which was, barely to tell you, how hardly we who pass most of our Time in Town dispense with a long Vacation in the Country, how uneasie we grow to our selves and to one another when our Conversation is confined, insomuch that by Michaelmas 'tis odds but we come to downright squabbling, and make as free with one another to our Faces, as we do with the rest of the World behind their Backs. After I have told you this, I am to desire that you would now and then give us a Lesson of Good-humour, a Family-Piece; which, since we are all very fond of you, I hope may have some Influence upon us--

'After these plain Observations give me leave to give you an Hint of what a Set of Company of my Acquaintance, who are now gone into the Country, and have the Use of an absent Nobleman's Seat, have settled among themselves, to avoid the Inconveniencies above mentioned. They are a Collection of ten or twelve, of the same good Inclination towards each other, but of very different Talents and Inclinations: From hence they hope, that the Variety of their Tempers will only create Variety of Pleasures. But as there always will arise, among the same People, either for want of Diversity of Objects, or the like Causes, a certain Satiety, which may grow into ill Humour or Discontent, there is a large Wing of the House which they design to employ in the Nature of an Infirmary. Whoever says a peevish thing, or acts any thing which betrays a Sowerness or Indisposition to Company, is immediately to be conveyed to his Chambers in the Infirmary; from whence he is not to be relieved, till by his Manner of Submission, and the Sentiments expressed in his Petition for that Purpose, he appears to the Majority of the Company to be again fit for Society. You are to understand, that all ill-natured Words or uneasie Gestures are sufficient Cause for Banishment; speaking impatiently to Servants, making a Man repeat what he says, or any thing that betrays Inattention or Dishumour, are also criminal without Reprieve: But it is provided, that whoever observes the ill-natured Fit coming upon himself, and voluntarily retires, shall be received at his return from the Infirmary with the highest Marks of Esteem. By these and other wholesome Methods it is expected that if they cannot cure one another, yet at least they have taken Care that the ill Humour of one shall not be troublesome to the rest of the Company. There are many other Rules which the Society have established for the Preservation of their Ease and Tranquility, the Effects of which, with the Incidents that arise among them, shall be communicated to you from Time to Time for the publick Good, by,

SIR, Your most humble Servant, R. O.


Translation of motto:
HOR. 1 Ep. xi. 30.
' 'Tis not the place disgust or pleasure brings:
From our own mind our satisfaction springs.'