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BIOGRAPHICAL, HISTORICAL, AND CRITICAL.
JAMES FERGUSON, ESQ.
AUTHOR OF THE “NEW BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY."
IN FORTY VOLUMES.
SPECTATOR, .VOL., VII.,
W. SHARPE AND SON ; ROBINSON AND CO.; G. WALKER;
AND R. GRIFFIN AND CO. GLASGOW.
N° 474. WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 3, 1712.
Asperitas agrestis, et inconcinna.
HoR, 1 Ep. xviii. 6.
MR. SPECTATOR, * Being of the number of those that have lately retired from the centre of business and pleasure, my uneasiness in the country where I am, arises rather from the society than the solitude of it. To be obliged to receive and return visits from, and to, a circle of neighbours, who, through diversity of age or inclination, can neither be entertaining nor serviceable to us, is a vile loss of time, and a slavery from which a man should deliver himself, if possible: for why must I lose the remaining part of my life, because they have thrown away the former part of theirs ? It is to me an insupportable affliction, to be tormented with the narrations of a set of people, who are warm in their expressions of the quick relish of that pleasure which their dogs and horses have a more delicate taste of. I do also in my heart detest and abhor that damnable doctrine and position of the
necessity of a bumper, though to one's own toast : for though it is pretended that these deep potations are used only to inspire gaiety, they certainly drown that cheerfulness which would survive a moderate circulation. If at these meetings, it were left to every stranger either to fill his glass according to his own inclination, or, to make his retreat when he finds he has been sufficiently obedient to that of others, these entertainments would be governed with more good sense, and consequently with more good breeding, than at present they are. Indeed, where any of the guests are known to measure their fame or pleasure by their glass, proper exhortations might be used to these to push their fortunes in this sort of reputation; but, where it is unseasonably insisted on to a modest stranger, this drench may be said to be swallowed with the same necessity as if it had been tendered in the horn for that purpose,* with this aggravating circumstance, that it distresses the entertainer's guest in the same degree as it relieves his horses. "To attend, without impatience, an account of fivebarred gates, double ditches, and precipices, and to survey the orator with desiring eyes, is, to me, extremely difficult, but absolutely necessary, to be upon
tolerable terms with him; but then the occasional burstings out into laughter is of all other accomplishments the most requisite. I confess at present I have not that command of these convulsions as is necessary to be good company: therefore I beg you would publish this letter, and let me be known all at once for a queer fellow, and avoided. It is monstrous to me, that we who are given to reading and calm conversation, should ever be visited by these roarers; but they think they themselves, as neighbours, may come into our rooms with the same right that they and their dogs hunt in our grounds.
* A horn is used to administer potions to horses.