The Project which I published on Monday last has brought me in several Packets of Letters. Among the rest I have receiv'd one from a certain Projector, wherein after having represented, that in all probability the Solemnity of opening my Mouth will draw together a great Confluence of Beholders, he proposes to me the hiring of Stationer's-Hall for the more convenient exhibiting of that Publick Ceremony. He undertakes to be at the Charge of it himself, provided he may have the erecting of Galleries on every side, and the letting of them out upon that Occasion. I have a Letter also from a Bookseller, petitioning me in a very humble manner, that he may have the Printing of the Speech which I shall make to the Assembly upon the first opening of my Mouth. I am informed from all Parts, that there are great Canvassings in the several Clubs about Town, upon the chusing of a proper Person to sit with me on those arduous Affairs, to which I have summoned them. Three Clubs have already proceeded to Election, whereof one has made a double Return. If I find that my Enemies shall take Advantage of my Silence to begin Hostilities upon me, or if any other Exigency of Affairs may so require, since I see Elections in so great a forwardness, we may possibly meet before the Day appointed; or if matters go on to my Satisfaction, I may perhaps put off the Meeting to a further Day; but of this Publick Notice shall be given.
In the mean time, I must confess that I am not a little gratify'd and oblig'd by that Concern which appears in this great City upon my present Design of laying down this Paper. It is likewise with much Satisfaction, that I find some of the most outlying Parts of the Kingdom alarm'd upon this Occasion, having receiv'd Letters to expostulate with me about it, from several of my Readers of the remotest Boroughs of Great Britain. Among these I am very well pleased with a Letter dated from Berwick upon Tweed, wherein my Correspondent compares the Office which I have for some time executed in these Realms to the Weeding of a great Garden; which, says he, it is not sufficient to weed once for all, and afterwards to give over, but that the Work must be continued daily, or the same Spots of Ground which are cleared for a while, will in a little time be over-run as much as ever. Another Gentleman lays before me several Enormities that are already sprouting, and which he believes will discover themselves in their Growth immediately after my Disappearance. There is no doubt, says he, but the Ladies Heads will shoot up as soon as they know they are no longer under the Spectator's Eye; and I have already seen such monstrous broad-brimmed Hats under the Arms of Foreigners, that I question not but they will overshadow the Island within a Month or two after the dropping of your Paper. But among all the Letters which are come to my hands, there is none so handsomely written as the following one, which I am the more pleased with, as it is sent me from Gentlemen who belong to a Body which I shall always Honour, and where (I cannot speak it without a secret Pride) my Speculations have met with a very kind Reception. It is usual for Poets, upon the publishing of their Works, to print before them such Copies of Verses as have been made in their Praise. Not that you must imagine they are pleased with their own Commendations, but because the elegant Compositions of their Friends should not be lost. I must make the same Apology for the Publication of the ensuing Letter, in which I have suppressed no Part of those Praises that are given my Speculations with too lavish and good-natured an Hand; though my Correspondents can witness for me, that at other times I have generally blotted out those Parts in the Letters which I have received from them.
Oxford, Nov. 25.
'In spight of your Invincible Silence you have found out a Method of being the most agreeable Companion in the World: That kind of Conversation which you hold with the Town, has the good Fortune of being always pleasing to the Men of Taste and Leisure, and never offensive to those of Hurry and Business. You are never heard, but at what Horace calls dextro tempore, and have the Happiness to observe the politick Rule, which the same discerning Author gave his Friend, when he enjoin'd him to deliver his Book to Augustus.
'Si validus, si lætus erit, si denique poscet.'
'You never begin to talk, but when People are desirous to hear you; and I defy any one to be out of humour till you leave off. But I am led unawares into Reflections, foreign to the original Design of this Epistle; which was to let you know, that some unfeigned Admirers of your inimitable Papers, who could, without any Flattery, greet you with the Salutation used to the Eastern Monarchs, viz. O Spec, live for ever, have lately been under the same Apprehensions, with Mr. Philo-Spec; that the haste you have made to dispatch your best Friends portends no long Duration to your own short Visage. We could not, indeed, find any just Grounds for Complaint in the Method you took to dissolve that venerable Body: No, the World was not worthy of your Divine. WILL. HONEYCOMB could not, with any Reputation, live single any longer. It was high time for the TEMPLAR to turn himself to Coke: And Sir ROGER's dying was the wisest thing he ever did in his Life. It was, however, matter of great Grief to us, to think that we were in danger of losing so Elegant and Valuable an Entertainment. And we could not, without Sorrow, reflect that we were likely to have nothing to interrupt our Sips in a Morning, and to suspend our Coffee in mid-air, between our Lips and Right Ear, but the ordinary Trash of News-Papers. We resolved, therefore, not to part with you so. But since, to make use of your own Allusion, the Cherries began now to crowd the Market, and their Season was almost over, we consulted our future Enjoyments, and endeavoured to make the exquisite Pleasure that delicious Fruit gave our Taste as lasting as we could, and by drying them protract their stay beyond its natural Date. We own that thus they have not a Flavour equal to that of their juicy Bloom; but yet, under this Disadvantage, they pique the Palate, and become a Salver better than any other Fruit at its first Appearance. To speak plain, there are a Number of us who have begun your Works afresh, and meet two Nights in the Week in order to give you a Rehearing. We never come together without drinking your Health, and as seldom part without general Expressions of Thanks to you for our Night's Improvement. This we conceive to be a more useful Institution than any other Club whatever, not excepting even that of ugly Faces. We have one manifest Advantage over that renowned Society, with respect to Mr. Spectator's Company. For though they may brag, that you sometimes make your personal Appearance amongst them, it is impossible they should ever get a Word from you. Whereas you are with us the Reverse of what Phædria would have his Mistress be in his Rival's Company, Present in your Absence. We make you talk as much and as long as we please; and let me tell you, you seldom hold your Tongue for the whole Evening. I promise my self you will look with an Eye of Favour upon a Meeting which owes its Original to a mutual Emulation among its Members, who shall shew the most profound Respect for your Paper; not but we have a very great Value for your Person: and I dare say you can no where find four more sincere Admirers, and humble Servants, than T. F., G. S., J. T., E. T.Translation of motto: