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employment of Censor, I have had encouragement so infinitely above my desert, that what I say cannot possibly be supposed to arise from peevishness, or any disappointment in that kind, which I myself have met with. When we consider Patrons and their Clients, those who receive addresses and those who are addressed to, it must not be understood that the Dependents are such as are worthless in their natures, abandoned to any vice or dishonour, or such as without a call thrust themselves upon men in power, nor when we say Patrons do we mean such as have it not in their power, or have no obligation, to assist their friends; but we speak of such leagues where there are power and obligation on the one part, and merit and expectation on the other. Were we to be very particular on this subject, I take it, that the division of Patron and Client may include a third part of our nation. The want of merit and real worth will strike out about ninety-nine in the hundred of these; and want of ability in the Patron will dispose of as many of that order. He who out of mere vanity to be applied to, will take up another's time and fortune in his service, where he has no prospect of returning it, is as much more unjust, as those who took up my friend the Upholder's goods without paying him for them; I say he is as much more unjust, as our life and time is more valuable than our goods and moveables. Among many whom you see about the great, there is a contented well-pleased set, who seem to like the attendance for its own sake, and are early at the abodes of the powerful, out of mere fashion. This sort of vanity is as well grounded, as if a man should lay aside his own plain suit, and dress himself up in a gay livery of another.
There are many of this species who exclude others of just expectations, and make those proper dependents appear impatient, because they are not so cheerful as those who expect nothing. I have made
use of the penny-post for the instruction of these voluntary slaves, and informed them that they will never be provided for; but they double their diligence by admonition. Will Afterday has told his friends, that he was to have the next thing, these ten years; and Harry Linger has been fourteen, within a month, of a considerable office. However the fantastic complaisance which is paid to them, may blind the great from seeing themselves in a just light; they must needs, if they in the least reflect, at some times, have a sense of the injustice they do in raising in others a false expectation. But this is so common a practice in all the stages of power, that there are not more cripples come out of the wars, than from the attendance of Patrons. You see in one a settled melancholy, in another a bridled rage; a third has lost his memory, and a fourth his whole constitution and humour. In a word, when you see a particular cast of mind or body, which looks a little upon the distracted, you may the poor gentleman has formerly had great friends. For this reason I have thought it a prudent thing to take a nephew of mine out of a lady's service, where he was a page, and have bound him to shoemaker.
But what, of all the the humours under the sun, is the most pleasant to consider is, that you see some men lay, as it were, a set of acquaintance by them, to converse with when they are out of employment, who had no effect of their power when they were in. Here Patrons and Clients both make the most fantastical figure imaginable. Friendship indeed is most manifested in adversity; but I do not know how to behave myself to a man, who thinks me his friend at no other time but that. Dick Reptile of our club had this in his head the other night, when he said, "I am afraid of ill news, when I am visited by any of my old friends." These Patrons are a
little like some fine gentlemen, who spend all their hours of gaiety with their wenches, but when they fall sick will let no one come near them but their wives. It seems, truth and honour are companions too sober for prosperity. It is certainly the most black ingratitude, to accept of a man's best endeavours to be pleasing to you, and return it with indifference.
I am so much of this mind, that Dick Estcourt the comedian, for coming one night to our club, though he laughed at us all the time he was there, shall have our company at his play on Thursday. A man of talents is to be favoured, or never admitted. Let the ordinary world truck for money and wares; but men of spirit and conversation should in every kind do others as much pleasure as they receive from them. But men are so taken up with outward forms, that they do not consider their actions; else how should it be, that a man should deny that to the entreaties, and almost tears of an old friend, which he shall solicit a new one to accept of? I remember, when I first came out of Staffordshire, I had an intimacy with a man of quality, in whose gift there fell a very good employment. All the town cried, "There's a thing for Mr. Bickerstaff;" when, to my great astonishment, I found my Patron had been forced upon twenty artifices to surprise a man with it who never thought of it: but sure, it is a degree of murder to amuse men with vain hopes. If a man takes away another's life, where is the difference, whether he does it by taking away the minutes of his time, or the drops of his blood? But indeed, such as have hearts barren of kindness are servedaccordingly by those whom they employ; and pass their lives away with an empty show of civility for love, and an insipid intercourse of a commerce in which their affections are no way concerned. But on the other side, how beautiful is the life of a Patron
who performs his duty to his inferiors! a worthy merchant who employs a crowd of artificers! a great lord, who is generous and merciful to the several necessities of his tenants! a courtier, who uses his credit and power for the welfare of his friends! These have in their several stations a quick relish of the exquisite pleasure of doing good. In a word, good Patrons are like the Guardian Angels of Plato, who are ever busy, though unseen, in the care of their wards; but ill Patrons are like the Deities of Epicurus, supine, indolent, and unconcerned, though they see mortals in storms and tempests, even while they are offering incense to their power.
N° 197. THURSDAY, JULY 13, 1710.
Semper ego auditor tantum?
Still shall I only hear?
Juv. Sat. i. 1.
Grecian Coffee-house, July 12.
WHEN I came hither this evening, the man of the house delivered me a book, very finely bound. When I received it, I overheard one of the boys whisper another, and say, "it was a fine thing to be a great scholar! what a pretty book that is!" It has indeed a very gay outside, and is dedicated to me by a very ingenious gentleman, who does not put his name to it. The title of it, for the work is in Latin, is Epistolarum Obscurorum Virorum, ad Dm. M. Ortuinum Gratium, Volumina II. &c." "Epistles of the obscure Writers to Ortuinus,* &c." The purpose of the work is signified in the dedication, in very elegant language, and fine raillery. It seems, this is a collection of letters which some profound
The elegant edition of the celebrated book here mentioned, is in 12mo. and dedicated "Isaaco Bickerstaff, Armigero, Magnæ Britannia Censori."
blockheads, who lived before our times, have written in honour of each other, and for their mutual information in each other's absurdities. They are mostly of the German nation, whence, from time to time, inundations of writers have flowed, more pernicious to the learned world, than the swarms of Goths and Vandals to the politic. It is, methinks, wonderful, that fellows could be awake, and utter such incoherent conceptions, and converse with great gravity, like learned men, without the least taste of knowledge or good sense. It would have been an endless labour to have taken any other method of exposing such impertinences, than by an edition of their own works: where you see their follies, according to the ambition of such virtuosi, in a most correct edition.
Looking over these accomplished labours, I could not but reflect upon the immense load of writings which the commonalty of scholars have pushed into the world, and the absurdity of parents, who edusate crowds to spend their time in pursuit of such cold and spiritless endeavours to appear in public. It seems therefore a fruitless labour, to attempt the correction of the taste of our contemporaries; except it was in our power to burn all the senseless labours of our ancestors. There is a secret propensity in nature, from generation to generation, in the blockheads of one age to admire those of another; and men of the same imperfections are as great admirers of each other, as men of the same abilities.
This great mischief of voluminous follies proceeds from a misfortune which happens in all ages, that men of barren geniuses, but fertile imaginations, are bred scholars. This may at first appear a paradox; but when we consider the talking creatures we meet in public places, it will no longer be such. Ralph Shallow is a young fellow, that has not by nature any the least propensity to strike into what has not been