No. 518. Friday, October 24, 1712. Steele [1]

--Miserum est alienæ incumbere famæ, Ne collapsa ruant subductis tecta columnis.'

This being a Day of Business with me, I must make the present Entertainment like a Treat at an House-warming, out of such Presents as have been sent me by my Guests. The first Dish which I serve up is a Letter come fresh to my Hand.


It is with inexpressible Sorrow that I hear of the Death of good Sir Roger, and do heartily condole with you upon so melancholy an Occasion. I think you ought to have blacken'd the Edges of a Paper which brought us so ill News, and to have had it stamped likewise in Black. It is expected of you that you should write his Epitaph, and, if possible, fill his Place in the Club with as worthy and diverting a Member. I question not but you will receive many Recommendations from the publick of such as will appear Candidates for that Post.

Since I am talking of Death, and have mentioned an Epitaph, I must tell you, Sir, that I have made discovery of a Church-Yard in which I believe you might spend an Afternoon, with great Pleasure to your self and to the Publick: It. belongs to the Church of Stebon-Heath, commonly called Stepney. Whether or no it be that the People of that Parish have a particular Genius for an Epitaph, or that there be some Poet among them who undertakes that Work by the Great, I can't tell; but there are more remarkable Inscriptions in that place than in any other I have met with, and I may say without Vanity, that there is not a Gentleman in England better read in Tomb-stones than my self, my Studies having laid very much in Church-yards. I shall beg leave to send you a Couple of Epitaphs, for a Sample of those I have just now mentioned. They are written in a different manner; the first being in the diffused and luxuriant, the second in the close contracted Style. The first has much of the Simple and Pathetick; the second is something Light, but Nervous. The first is thus:

'Here Thomas Sapper lyes interred. Ah why!
Born in New England, did in London dye;
Was the third Son of Eight, begot upon
His Mother Martha by his Father John.
Much favoured by his Prince he 'gan to be,
But nipt by Death at th' Age of Twenty Three.
Fatal to him was that we Small-pox name,
By which his Mother and two Brethren came
Also to breathe their last nine Years before,
And now have left their Father to deplore
The loss of all his Children, with his Wife,
Who was the Joy and Comfort of his Life.'

The Second is as follows:

'Here lies the Body of Daniel Saul,
Spittle-fields Weaver, and that's all.'

'I will not dismiss you, whilst I am upon this Subject, without sending a short Epitaph which I once met with, though I cannot possibly recollect the Place. The Thought of it is serious, and in my Opinion, the finest that I ever met with upon this Occasion. You know, Sir, it is usual, after having told us the Name of the Person who lies interr'd to lanch out into his Praises. This Epitaph takes a quite contrary Turn, having been made by the Person himself some time before his Death.

'Hic jacet_ R. C. _in expectatione diei supremi. Qualis erat dies
iste indicabit.' [2]
Here lieth _R. C_. in expectation of the last Day. What sort of a
Man he was, that Day will discover.

I am, SIR, &c.

The following Letter is dated from Cambridge. [3]


'Having lately read among your Speculations, an Essay upon Phisiognomy, I cannot but think that if you made a Visit to this ancient University, you might receive very considerable Lights upon that Subject, there being scarce a young Fellow in it who does not give certain Indications of his particular Humour and Disposition conformable to the Rules of that Art. In Courts and Cities every body lays a Constraint upon his Countenance, and endeavours to look like the rest of the World; but the Youth of this Place, having not yet formed themselves by Conversation, and the Knowledge of the World, give their Limbs and Features their full Play.

'As you have considered Human Nature in all its Lights, you must be extremely well apprized, that there is a very close Correspondence between the outward and the inward Man; that scarce the least Dawning, the least Parturiency towards a Thought can be stirring in the Mind of Man, without producing a suitable Revolution in his Exteriors, which will easily discover it self to an Adept in the Theory of the Phiz. Hence it is, that the intrinsick Worth and Merit of a Son of Alma Mater is ordinarily calculated from the Cast of his Visage, the Contour of his Person, the Mechanism of his Dress, the Disposition of his Limbs, the Manner of his Gate and Air, with a number of Circumstances of equal Consequence and Information: The Practitioners in this Art often make use of a Gentleman's Eyes to give 'em Light into the Posture of his Brains; take a Handle from his Nose, to judge of the Size of his Intellects; and interpret the over-much Visibility and Pertness of one Ear, as an infallible mark of Reprobation, and a Sign the Owner of so saucy a Member fears neither God nor Man. In conformity to this Scheme, a contracted Brow, a lumpish down-cast Look, a sober sedate Pace, with both Hands dangling quiet and steddy in Lines exactly parallel to each Lateral Pocket of the Galligaskins, is Logick, Metaphysicks and Mathematicks in Perfection. So likewise the Belles Lettres are typified by a Saunter in the Gate; a Fall of one Wing of the Peruke backward, an Insertion of one Hand in the Fobb, and a negligent Swing of the other, with a Pinch of right and fine Barcelona between Finger and Thumb, a due Quantity of the same upon the upper Lip, and a Noddle-Case loaden with Pulvil. Again, a grave solemn stalking Pace is Heroick Poetry, and Politicks; an Unequal one, a Genius for the Ode, and the modern Ballad: and an open Breast, with an audacious Display of the Holland Shirt, is construed a fatal Tendency to the Art Military.

'I might be much larger upon these Hints, but I know whom I write to. If you can graft any Speculation upon them, or turn them to the Advantage of the Persons concerned in them, you will do a Work very becoming the British Spectator, and oblige'

Your very Humble Servant,

Tom. Tweer.

[Footnote 1: Of the two letters which form this number the second is by John Henley, known afterwards as 'Orator Henley,' of whom see a note to No. 396.]

[Footnote 2: The European Magazine for July, 1787, says that the exact copy of this Epitaph, which is on a Thomas Crouch, who died in 1679, runs thus:

Aperiet Deus tumulos et educet nos de sepulchris Qualis eram, dies isti haec cum venerit, scies..]

[Footnote 3: By John Henley.]

Translation of motto:
JUV. Sat. viii. 76.
' 'Tis poor relying on another's fame,
For, take the pillars but away, and all
The superstructure must in ruins fall.'