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the like occasion. She desired Leonilla to give her opinion freely upon the young fellow who made his addresses to her. Leonilla, to oblige her, told her with great frankness, that she looked upon him as one of the most worthless — Celia, foreseeing what a character she was to expect, begged her not to go on, for that she had been privately married to him above a fortnight. The truth of it is, a woman seldom asks advice before she has bought her wedding clothes. When she has made her own choice, for form's sake, she sends a congé d'élire to her friends.
If we look into the secret springs and motives that set people at work on these occasions, and put them upon asking advice which they never intend to take; I look upon it to be none of the least, that they are incapable of keeping a secret which is so very pleasing to them. A girl longs to tell her confidant, that she hopes to be married in a little time; and, in order to talk of the pretty fellow that dwells so much in her thoughts, asks her very gravely, what she would advise her to do in a case of so much difficulty. Why else should Melissa, who had not a thousand pounds in the world, go into every quarter of the town to ask her acquaintance whether they would advise her to take Tom Townly, that made his addresses to her with an estate of five thousand a year? It is very pleasant, on this occasion, to hear the lady propose her doubts, and to see the pains she is at to get over them.
I must not here omit a practice that is in use among the vainer part of our own sex, who will often ask a friend's advice in relation to à fortune whom they are never like to come at. WILL HONEYCOMB, who is now on the verge of threescore, took me aside not long since, and asked me in his most serious look, whether I would advise him to marry my Lady Betty Single, who, by the way, is one of the greatest fortunes about town. I stared him full in the face upon so strange a question; upon which he immediately gave me an inventory of her jewels and estate, adding that he was resolved to do nothing in a matter of such consequence without my approbation. Finding he would have an answer, I told him, if he could get the lady's consent, he had mine. This is about the tenth match which, to my knowledge, Will has consulted his friends upon, without ever opening his mind to the party herself.
I have been engaged in this subject by the following letter, which comes to me from some notable young female scribe, who, by the contents of it, seems to have carried matters so far, that she is ripe for asking advice; but as I would not lose her good will, nor forfeit the reputation which I have with her for wisdom, I shall only communicate the letter to the public, without returning any answer to it.
“MR. SPECTATOR, “Now, Sir, the thing is this: Mr. Shapely is the prettiest gentle
man about town. He is very tall, but not too tall neither. He dances like an angel. His mouth is made I do not know how, but it is the prettiest that I ever saw in my life. He is always laughing, for he has an infinite deal of wit. If you did but see how he rolls his stockings! He has a thousand pretty fancies, and I am sure, if you saw him, you would like him. He is a very good scholar, and can talk Latin as fast as English. I wish you could but see him dance. Now you must understand poor Mr. Shapely has no estate; but how can he help that, you know? And yet my friends are so unreasonable as to be always teasing me about him, because he has no estate; but I am sure he has that that is better than an estate: for he is a good-natured, ingenious, modest, civil, tall, well-bred, handsome man; and I am obliged to him for his civilities ever since I saw him. I forgot to tell you that he has black eyes, and looks upon me now and then as if he had tears in them. And yet my friends are so unreasonable, that they would have me be uncivil to him. I have a good portion which they cannot hinder me of, and I shall be fourteen on the 29th day of August next, and am therefore willing to settle in the world as soon as I can, and so is Mr. Shapely. But everybody I advise with here is poor Mr. Shapely's enemy. I desire therefore you will give me your advice, for I know you are a wise man; and if you advise me well, I am resolved to follow it. I heartily wish you could see him dance; and am, “Sir, your most humble servant,
“ B. D. “He loves your SPECTATORS mightily.” ADDISON
No. 476. FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 1712.
HOR. ARS. POET. 41.
Method. AMONG my daily papers which I bestow on the public, there are some which are written with regularity and method, and others that run out into the wildness of those compositions which go by the name of essays. As for the first, I have the whole scheme of the discourse in my mind before I set pen to paper. In the other kind of writing, it is sufficient that I have several thoughts on a subject, without troubling myself to range them in such order, that they may seem to grow out of one another, and be disposed under the proper heads. Seneca and Montaigne are patterns for writing in this last kind, as Tully and Aristotle excel in the other. When I read an author of genius who writes without method, I fancy myself in a wood that abounds with a great many noble objects, rising among one another in the greatest confusion and disorder. When I read a methodical discourse, I am in a regular plantation, and can place myself in its several centres, so as to take a view of all the lines and walks that are struck from them. You may ramble in the one a whole day together, and every moment discover something or other that is new to you; but when you have done, you will have but a confused imperfect notion of the place: in the other, your eye commands the whole prospect, and gives you such an idea of it as is not easily worn out of the memory.
Irregularity and want of method are only supportable in men of great learning or genius, who are often too full to be exact, and therefore choose to throw down their pearls in heaps before the reader, rather than be at the pains of stringing them.
Method is of advantage to a work, both in respect to the writer and the reader. In regard to the first, it is a great help to his in. vention. When a man has planned his discourse, he finds a great many thoughts rising out of every head, that do not offer themselves upon the general survey of a subject. His thoughts are at the same time more intelligible, and better discover their drift and meaning, when they are placed in their proper lights, and follow one another in a regular series, than when they are thrown together without order and connexion. There is always an obscurity in confusion; and the same sentence that would have enlightened the reader in one part of a discourse, perplexes him in another. For the same reason, likewise, 'every thought in a methodical discourse shows itself in its greatest beauty, as the several figures in a piece of painting receive new grace from their disposition in the picture. The advantages of a reader from a methodical discourse are correspondent with those of the writer. He comprehends everything easily, takes it in with pleasure, and retains it long.
Method is not less requisite in ordinary conversation than in writing, provided a man would talk to make himself understood. I, who hear a thousand coffee-house debates every day, am very sensible of this want of method in the thoughts of my honest countrymen. There is not one dispute in ten which is managed in those schools of politics, where, after the three first sentences, the question is not entirely lost. Our disputants put me in mind of the scuttle-fish, that when he is unable to extricate himself, blackens all the water about him until he becomes invisible. The man who does not know how to methodize his thoughts, has always, to borrow a phrase from the Dispensary, “A barren superfluity of words;" the fruit is lost amidst the exuberance of leaves.
Tom Puzzle is one of the most eminent immethodical disputants of any that has fallen under my observation. Tom has read enough to make him very impertinent; his knowledge is sufficient to raise doubts but not to clear them. It is pity that he has so much learning, or that he has not a great deal more. With these qualifications Tom sets up for a Free-thinker, finds a great many things to blame in the constitution of his country, and gives shrewd intimations that he does not believe another world. In short, Puzzle is an Atheist as much as his parts will give him leave. He has got about half a dozen common place topics, into which he never fails to turn the conversation, whatever was the occasion of it. Though the matter in debate be about Douay or Denain, it is ten to one but half bis discourse runs upon the unreasonableness of bigotry and priestcraft. This makes Mr. Puzzle the admiration of all those who have less sense than himself, and the contempt of all those who have more. There is none in town whom Tom dreads so much as my friend Will Dry. Will, who is acquainted with Tom's logic, when he finds him running off the question, cuts him short with a “ What then? We allow all this to be true; but what is it to our present purpose ?” I have known Tom eloquent half an hour together, and triumpbing, as he thought, in the superiority of the argument, when he has been nonplussed on a sudden by Mr. Dry's desiring him to tell the company what it was that he endeavoured to prove. In short, Dry is a man of a clear methodical head, but few words, and gains the same advantage over Puzzle, that a small body of regular troops would gain over a numberless undisciplined militia.
No. 477. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 1712.
- An me ludit amabilis
Quos et aquæ subeunt et auræ. HOR. 3 OD. IV. 5.
“HAVING lately read your essay on the Pleasures of the Imagination,* I was so taken with your thoughts upon some of our English gardens, that I cannot forbear troubling you with a letter
upon that subject. I am one, you must know, who am looked upon as an humourist in gardening. I have several acres about my house, which I call my garden, and which a skilful gardener would not know what to call. It is a confusion of kitchen and parterre, orchard and flower-garden, which lie so mixed and interwoven with one another, that if a foreigner, who had seen nothing of our country, should be conveyed into my garden at his first landing, he would look upon it as a natural wilderness, and one of the uncultivated parts of our country. My flowers grow up in several parts of the garden in the greatest luxuriancy and profusion. I am so far from being fond of any particular one, by reason of its rarity, that if I meet with any one in a field which pleases me, I give it a place in my garden. By this means, when a stranger walks with me, he is surprised to see several large spots of ground covered with ten thousand different colours, and has often singled out flowers that he might have met with under a common hedge, in a field, or in a meadow, as some of the greatest beauties of the place. The only method I observe, in this particular, is, to range in the same quarter the products of the same season, that they may make their appearance together, and compose a picture of the greatest variety. There is the same irregularity in my plantations, which run into as great a wildness as their natures will permit. I take in none that do not naturally rejoice in the soil; and am pleased, when I am walking in a labyrinth of my own raising, not to know whether the next tree I shall meet with is an apple, or an oak, an elm, or a pear-tree. My kitchen has likewise its particular quarters assigned it; for, besides the wholesome luxury which that place abounds with, I have always thought a kitchen-garden a more pleasant sight than the finest orangery or artificial greenhouse. I love to see everything in its perfection: and am more pleased to survey my rows of coleworts and cabbages, with a thousand nameless potherbs, springing up in their full fragrancy and verdure, than to see the tender plants of foreign countries kept alive by artificial heats, or withering in an air and soil that are not adapted to them. I must not omit, that there is a fountain rising in the upper part of my garden, which forms a little wandering rill, and administers to the pleasure as well as the plenty of the place. I have so conducted it, that it visits most of my plantations; and have taken particular care to let it run in the same manner as it would do in an open field, so that it generally passes through banks of violets and primroses, plants of willow, or other plants, that seem to be of its own producing. There is another circumstance in which I am very particular, or as my neighbours call me, very whimsical; as my garden invites into it all the birds of the country, by offering them the conveniency of springs and shades, solitude and shelter, I do not suffer any one to destroy their nests in the spring, or drive them from their usual haunts in