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which seemed to have been at least its contemporary : his short wig and hat were both answerable to the rest of his apparel. He was no sooner seated than he called for a dish of tea; but as several gentlemen in the room wanted other things, the boys of the house did not think themselves at leisure to mind him. I could observe the old fellow was very uneasy at the affront, and at his being obliged to repeat his commands several times to no purpose; until at last one of the lads presented him with some stale tea in a broken dish, accompanied with a plate of brown sugar; which so raised his indignation, that after several obliging appellations of dog and rascal, he asked him aloud before the whole company,' why he must be used with less respect than that fop there ? pointing to a well-dressed young gentleman who was drinking tea at the opposite table. The boy of the house replied with a good deal of pertness,' that his master had two sorts of customers, and that the gentleman at the other table had given him many a sixpence for wiping his shoes.' By this time the young Templar, who found his honour concerned in the dispute, and that the eyes of the whole coffee-house were upon him, had thrown aside a paper he had in his hand, and was coming towards us, while we at the table made what haste we could to get away from the impending quarrel, but were all of us surprised to see him as he approached nearer put on an air of deference and respect. To whom the old man said, 'Hark you, sirrah, I will pay off your extravagant bills once more, but will take effectual care for the future, that your prodigality shall not spirit up a parcel of rascals to insult your father.'
Though I by no means apprové either the impudence of the servants or the extravagance of the son, I cannot but think the old gentleman was in some
measure justly served for walking in masquerade, I mean appearing in a dress so much beneath his quality and estate. .
N° 151. THURSDAY, AUGUST 5, 1711.
Maximas virtutes jacere omnes necesse est voluptate dominante.
TULL. de Fin. Where pleasure prevails, all the greatest virtues will lose their power.
I Know no one character that gives reason a greater shock, at the same time that it presents a good ridiculous image to the imagination, than that of a man of wit and pleasure about the town. This description of a man of fashion, spoken by some with a mixture of scorn and ridicule, by others with great gravity as a laudable distinction, is in every body's mouth that spends any time in conversation. My friend Will Honeycomb has this expression very frequently; and I never could understand by the story which follows, upon his mention of such a one, but that his man of wit and pleasure was either a drunkard, too old for wenching, or a young lewd fellow with some liveliness, who would converse with you, receive kind offices of you, and at the same time debauch your sister, or lie with your wife. According to his description, a man of wit, when he could have wenches for crowns a-piece which he liked quite as well, would be so extrava
gant as to bribe servants, make false friendships, - fight relations; I say, according to him, plain and simple vice was too little for a man of wit and pleasure; but he would leave an easy and accessible wickedness, to come at the same thing with only the addition of certain falsehood and possible murder. Will thinks the town grown very dull, in that we do not hear so much as we used to do of those coxcombs, whom (without observing it) he describes as the most infamous rogues in nature, with relation to friendship, love, or conversation.
When pleasure is made the chief pursuit of life, it will necessarily follow that such monsters as these will arise from a constant application to such blandishments as naturally root out the force of reason and reflection, and substitute in their place a general impatience of thought, and a constant pruriency of inordinate desire.
Pleasure, when it is a man's chief purpose, disappoints itself; and the constant application to it palls the faculty of enjoying it, though it leaves the sense of our inability for that we wish, with a disrelish of every thing else. Thus the intermediate seasons of the man of pleasure are more heavy than one would impose upon the vilest criminal. Take him when he is awaked too soon after a debauch, or disappointed in following a worthless woman without truth, and there is no man living whose being is such a weight or vexation as his is. He is an utter stranger to the pleasing reflections in the evening of a well-spent day, or the gladness of heart or quickness of spirit in the morning after profound sleep or indolent slumbers. He is not to be at ease any longer than he can keep reason and good sense without his curtains; otherwise he will be haunted with the reflection, that he could not believe such a one, the woman, that upon trial he found her. What has he got by his conquest, but to think meanly of her for whom a day or two before he had the highest honour? And of himself
for perhaps wronging the man whom of all men living he himself would least willingly have in
Pleasure seizes the whole man who addicts himself to it, and will not give him leisure for any good office in life which contradicts the gaiety of the present hour. You may indeed observe in people of pleasure a certain complacency and absence of all severity, which the habit of a loose unconcerned life gives them; but tell the man of pleasure your secret wants, cares, or sorrows, and you will find that he has given up the delicacy of his passions to the cravings of his appetites. He little knows the perfect joy he loses, for the disappointing gratifications which he pursues. He looks at Pleasure as she approaches, and comes to him with the recommendation of warm wishes, gay looks, and graceful motion; but he does not observe how she leaves his presence with disorder, impotence, down-cast shame, and conscious imperfection. She makes our youth inglorious, our age shameful.
Will Honeycomb gives us twenty intimations in an evening of several hags whose bloom was given up to his arm; and would raise a value to himself for having had, as the phrase is, very good women.' Will's good women are the comfort of his heart, and support him, I warrant, by the memory of past interviews with persons of their condition. No, there, is not in the world an occasion wherein vice makes so fantastical a figure, as at the meeting of two old people who have been partners in unwarrantable pleasure. To tell a toothless old lady that she once had a good set, or a defunct wencher that he once was the admired thing of the town, are satires instead of applauses ; but on the other side, consider the old age of those who have passed their days in labour, industry, and virtue; their
delays make them but appear the more venerable, and the imperfections of their bodies are beheld as a misfortune to human society that their make is so little durable.
But to return more directly to my man of wit and pleasure. In all orders of men, wherever this is the chief character, the person who wears it is a negligent friend, father, and husband, and entails poverty on his unhappy descendants. Mortgages, disease, and settlements, are the legacies a man of wit and pleasure leaves to his family. All the poor rogues that make such lamentable speeches after every sessions at Tyburn, were, in their way, men of wit and pleasure before they fell into the adventures which brought them thither. "
Irresolution and procrastination in all a map's. affairs, are the natural effects of being addicted to pleasure. Dishonour to the gentleman and bankruptcy to the trader, are the portion of either whose chief purpose of life is delight. The chief cause that this pursuit has been in all ages received with so much quarter from the soberer part of mankind, has been that some men of great talents have sacrificed themselves to it. The shining qualities of such people have given a beauty to whatever they were engaged in, and a mixture of wit has recommended madness. For let any man who knows what it is to have passed much time in a series of jollity, mirth, wit, or humorous entertainments, look back at what he was all that while a doing, and he will find that he has been at one instant sharp to some man he is sorry to have offended, impertinent to someone it was cruelty to treat with such freedom, ungracefully noisy at such a time, unskilfully open at such a time, unmercifully calumnious at such a time; and from the whole course of his applauded satisfactions, unable in the end to re- , collect any circumstance which can add to the enjoy