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WILLIAM HONEYCOMB, Esq.
THE seven former volumes of the Spectator having been dedicated to some of the most celebrated persons of the age, I take leave to inscribe this eighth and last to you, as to a gentleman who hath ever been ambitious of appearing in the best company.
You are now wholly retired from the busy part of mankind, and at leisure to reflect upon your past achievements; for which reason I look upon you as a person very well qualified for a dedication.
I may possibly disappoint my readers, and yourself too, if I do not endeavour on this occasion to make the world acquainted with your virtues. And here, Sir, I shall not compliment you upon your birth, person, or fortune; nor any other the like perfections, which you possess whether you will or no: but shall only touch upon those, which are of your own acquiring, and in which every one must allow you have a real merit.
Your janty air and easy motion, the volubi,;ty of your discourse, the suddenness of your laugh, the management of your snuff-box, with the whiteness of your hands and teeth, (which have justly gained you the envy of the most polite part of the male world, and the love of the greatest beauties in the female) are intirely to be ascribed to your own personal genius and application.
You are formed for these accomplishments by a happy turn of nature, and have finished yourself in them by the utmost improvements of art. A man that is defective in either of these qualifications (whatever may be the secret ambition of his heart) must never hope to make the figure you have done, among the fashionable part of his species. It is therefore no wonder, we see such multitudes of aspiring young men fall short of you in all these beauties of your character, notwithstanding the study and practice of them is the whole business of their lives. But I need not tell you that the free and disengaged behaviour of a fine gentleman makes as many awkward beaus, as the easiness of your favourite Waller hath made insipid poets.
At present you are content to aim *all your charms at your own spouse, without farther thought of mischief to any others of the sex. I know you had formerly a very great contempt for that pedantic race of mortals who call themselves philosophers; and yet, to your honor be it spoken, there is not a sage of them all could have better acted up to their precepts in one of the most important points of life: I mean in that generous disregard of popular opinion which you shewed some years ago, when you chose for your wife an obscure young woman, who doth not, indeed, pretend to an ancient family, but has certainly as many forefathers as any lady in the land, if she could but reckon up their names. .
I must own I conceived very extraordinary hopes of you from the moment that you confessed your age, and from eight and forty (where you had stuck so many years) very ingeniously stepped into your grand climacteric. Your deportment has since been very venerable and becoming. If I am rightly informed, you make a regular appearance every quarter-sessions among your brothers of the Quorum; and if things go on as they do, stand fair for being a colonel of the militia. I am told that your time passes away as agreeably in the amusements of a country life, as it ever did in the gallantries of the town: and that you now take as much pleasure in the planting of young trees, as you did formerly in the cutting down of your old ones. In short, we hear from all hands, that you are thoroughly reconciled to your dirty acres, and have not too much wit to look into your own estate.
After having spoken thus much of my patron, I must take the privilege of an author in saying something of myself. I shall therefore beg leave to add, that I have purposely omitted setting those marks to the end of every paper, which appeared in my former volumes, that you may have an opportunity of shew
ing Mrs. Honeycomb the shrewdness of your con-
Your most faithful,
No. DLVI. TUESDAY, JUNE 18, in4.
Qualis ubi in lucem coluber mala gramina pastus,
So shines, renew'd in youth, the crested snake,
Who slept the winter in a thorny brake;
And casting off his slough, when spring returns,
Now looks aloft, and with new glory burns:
Restored with pois'nous herbs, his ardent sides
Reflect the sun, and rais'd on spires he rides:
High o'er the grass hissing he rolls along,
And brandishes by fits his forky tongue. Dryden'.
UPON laying down the office of Spectator, I acquainted the world with my design of electing a new club, and of opening my mouth in it after a most solemn manner. Both the election and the ceremony are now past; but not finding it so easy, as I at first imagined, to breakthrough a fifty years silence, I would not venture into the world under the character of a man who pretends to talk like other people, till I arrived at a full freedom of speech.
I shall reserve for another time the history of such club or clubs, of which I am now a talkative, but unworthy member; and shall here give an account of this surprising change which has been produced in me, and which I look upon to be as remarkable an accident as any recorded in history, since that which happened to the son of Crossus, after having been many years as much tongue-tied as myself.