It is reckoned a Piece of Ill-breeding for one Man to engross the whole Talk to himself. For this Reason, since I keep three Visiting-Days in the Week, I am content now and then to let my Friends put in a Word. There are several Advantages hereby accruing both to my Readers and my self. As first, Young and modest Writers have an Opportunity of getting into Print: Again, The Town enjoys the Pleasure of Variety; and Posterity will see the Humour of the present Age, by the help of these little Lights into private and domestick Life. The Benefits I receive from thence, are such as these: I gain more Time for future Speculations; pick up Hints which I improve for the publick Good; give Advice; redress Grievances; and, by leaving commodious Spaces between the several Letters that I print, furnish out a Spectator with little Labour and great Ostentation.
'I was mightily pleased with your Speculation of Friday. Your Sentiments are Noble, and the whole worked up in such a manner, as cannot but strike upon every Reader. But give me leave to make this Remark: That while you write so Pathetically on Contentment, and a retired Life, you sooth the Passion of Melancholy, and depress the Mind from Actions truly Glorious. Titles and Honours are the Reward of Virtue: We therefore ought to be affected with them: And tho' light Minds are too much puffed up with exterior Pomp, yet I cannot see why it is not as truly Philosophical, to admire the glowing Ruby, or the sparkling Green of an Emerald, as the fainter and less permanent Beauties of a Rose or a Myrtle. If there are Men of extraordinary Capacities who lye concealed from the World, I should impute it to them as a Blot in their Character, did not I believe it owing to the Meanness of their Fortune rather than of their Spirit. Cowley, who tells the Story of AglaÅ¾s with so much Pleasure, was no Stranger to Courts, nor insensible of Praise.
'What shall I do to be for ever known,
And make the Age to come my own?'
was the Result of a laudable Ambition. It was not till after frequent Disappointments, that he termed himself the Melancholy Cowley; and he praised Solitude, when he despair'd of shining in a Court. The Soul of Man is an active Principle. He therefore, who withdraws himself from the Scene before he has play'd his Part, ought to be hissed off the Stage, and cannot be deemed Virtuous, because he refuses to answer his End. I must own I am fired with an honest Ambition to imitate every illustrious Example. The Battles of Blenheim and Ramillies have more than once made me wish my self a Soldier. And when I have seen those Actions so nobly celebrated by our Poets, I have secretly aspir'd to be one of that distinguished Class. But in vain I wish, in vain I pant with the Desire of Action. I am chained down in Obscurity, and the only Pleasure I can take is in seeing so many brighter Genius's join their friendly Lights, to add to the Splendor of the Throne. Farewel then dear Spec, and believe me to be with great Emulation, and no Envy,'
Your profess'd Admirer,
Middle-Temple, October 26, 1714.
'Tho' you have formerly made Eloquence the Subject of one or more of your Papers, I do not remember that you ever consider'd it as possessed by a Set of People, who are so far from making Quintilian's Rules their Practice, that, I dare say for them, they never heard of such an Author, and yet are no less Masters of it than Tully or Demosthenes among the Ancients, or whom you please amongst the Moderns. The Persons I am speaking of are our common Beggars about this Town; and that what I say is true, I appeal to any Man who has a Heart one Degree softer than a Stone. As for my part, who don't pretend to more Humanity than my Neighbours, I have oftentimes gone from my Chambers with Money in my Pocket, and returned to them not only Pennyless, but destitute of a Farthing, without bestowing of it any other way than on these seeming Objects of Pity. In short, I have seen more Eloquence in a Look from one of these despicable Creatures, than in the Eye of the fairest She I ever saw, yet no one is a greater Admirer of that Sex than my self. What I have to desire of you is, to lay down some Directions in order to guard against these powerful Orators, or else I know nothing to the contrary but I must my self be forced to leave the Profession of the Law, and endeavour to get the Qualifications necessary to that more profitable one of Begging. But in which soever of these two Capacities I shine, I shall always desire to be your constant Reader, and ever will be'
Your most humble Servant,
'Upon Reading a Spectator last Week, where Mrs. Fanny Fickle submitted the Choice of a Lover for Life to your decisive Determination, and imagining I might claim the Favour of your Advice in an Affair of the like, but much more difficult Nature, I called for Pen and Ink, in order to draw the Characters of Seven Humble Servants, whom I have equally encouraged for some time. But alas! while I was reflecting on the agreeable Subject, and contriving an advantageous Description of the dear Person I was most inclined to favour, I happened to look into my Glass. The sight of the Small-Pox, out of which I am just recovered, tormented me at once with the loss of my captivating Arts and my Captives. The Confusion I was in, on this unhappy, unseasonable Discovery, is inexpressible. Believe me, Sir, I was so taken up with the Thoughts of your fair Correspondent's Case, and so intent on my own Design, that I fancied myself as Triumphant in my Conquests as ever.
'Now, Sir, finding I was incapacitated to Amuse my self on that pleasing Subject, I resolved to apply my self to you, or your Casuistical Agent, for Advice in my present Circumstances. I am sensible the Tincture of my Skin, and the Regularity of my Features, which the Malice of my late Illness has altered, are irrecoverable; yet don't despair, but that Loss, by your Assistance, may in some measure be reparable, if you'll please to propose a way for the Recovery of one only of my Fugitives.
'One of them is in a more particular Manner beholden to me than the rest; he for some private Reasons being desirous to be a Lover incognito, always addressed me with Billet-Doux, which I was so careful of in my Sickness, that I secured the Key of my Love-Magazine under my Head, and hearing a noise of opening a Lock in my Chamber, indangered my Life by getting out of Bed, to prevent, if it had been attempted, the Discovery of that Amour.
'I have formerly made use of all those Artifices, which our Sex daily practises over yours, to draw, as it were undesignedly, the eyes of a whole Congregation to my Pew; I have taken a Pride in the number of Admirers at my Afternoon Levèe; but am now quite another Creature. I think, could I regain the attractive Influence I once had, if I had a Legion of Suitors, I should never be ambitious of Entertaining more than one. I have almost contracted an Antipathy to the trifling Discourses of Impertinent Lovers, though I must needs own, I have thought it very odd of late, to hear Gentlemen, instead of their usual Complacencies, fall into Disputes before me of Politicks, or else weary me with the tedious Repetition of how thankful I ought to be, and satisfied with my Recovery out of so dangerous a Distemper: This, though I am very sensible of the Blessing, yet I cannot but dislike, because such Advice from them rather seems to Insult than Comfort me, and reminds me too much of what I was; which melancholy Consideration I cannot yet perfectly surmount, but hope your Sentiments on this Head will make it supportable.
'To shew you what a Value I have for your Dictates, these are to certify the Persons concern'd, that unless one of them returns to his Colours, (if I may so call them now) before the Winter is over, I'll voluntarily confine my self to a Retirement, where I'll punish them all with my Needle. I'll be reveng'd on them by deciphering them on a Carpet, humbly begging Admittance, my self scornfully refusing it: If you disapprove of this, as favouring too much of Malice, be pleased to acquaint me with a Draught you like better, and it shall be faithfully performed'
By the Unfortunate
Monimia.Translation of motto: