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No. 105 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

No. 105.
Saturday, June 30, 1711.
‘… Id arbitror

Adprime in vita esse utile, ne quid nimis.’

Ter. And.

My Friend WILL. HONEYCOMB values himself very much upon what he calls the Knowledge of Mankind, which has cost him many Disasters in his Youth; for WILL. reckons every Misfortune that he has met with among the Women, and every Rencounter among the Men, as Parts of his Education, and fancies he should never have been the Man he is, had not he broke Windows, knocked down Constables, disturbed honest People with his Midnight Serenades, and beat up a lewd Woman’s Quarters, when he was a young Fellow. The engaging in Adventures of this Nature WILL. calls the studying of Mankind; and terms this Knowledge of the Town, the Knowledge of the World. WILL. ingenuously confesses, that for half his Life his Head ached every Morning with reading of Men over-night; and at present comforts himself under certain Pains which he endures from time to time, that without them he could not have been acquainted with the Gallantries of the Age. This WILL. looks upon as the Learning of a Gentleman, and regards all other kinds of Science as the Accomplishments of one whom he calls a Scholar, a Bookish Man, or a Philosopher.

For these Reasons WILL. shines in mixt Company, where he has the Discretion not to go out of his Depth, and has often a certain way of making his real Ignorance appear a seeming one. Our Club however has frequently caught him tripping, at which times they never spare him. For as WILL. often insults us with the Knowledge of the Town, we sometimes take our Revenge upon him by our Knowledge [of [1]] Books.

He was last Week producing two or three Letters which he writ in his Youth to a Coquet Lady. The Raillery of them was natural, and well enough for a mere Man of the Town; but, very unluckily, several of the Words were wrong spelt. WILL. laught this off at first as well as he could; but finding himself pushed on all sides, and especially by the Templar, he told us, with a little Passion, that he never liked Pedantry in Spelling, and that he spelt like a Gentleman, and not like a Scholar: Upon this WILL. had recourse to his old Topick of shewing the narrow-Spiritedness, the Pride, and Ignorance of Pedants; which he carried so far, that upon my retiring to my Lodgings, I could not forbear throwing together such Reflections as occurred to me upon that Subject.

A Man [who [2]] has been brought up among Books, and is able to talk of nothing else, is a very indifferent Companion, and what we call a Pedant. But, methinks, we should enlarge the Title, and give it every one that does not know how to think out of his Profession and particular way of Life.

What is a greater Pedant than a meer Man of the Town? Bar him the Play-houses, a Catalogue of the reigning Beauties, and an Account of a few fashionable Distempers that have befallen him, and you strike him dumb. How many a pretty Gentleman’s Knowledge lies all within the Verge of the Court? He will tell you the Names of the principal Favourites, repeat the shrewd Sayings of a Man of Quality, whisper an Intreague that is not yet blown upon by common Fame; or, if the Sphere of his Observations is a little larger than ordinary, will perhaps enter into all the Incidents, Turns, and Revolutions in a Game of Ombre. When he has gone thus far he has shown you the whole Circle of his Accomplishments, his Parts are drained, and he is disabled from any further Conversation. What are these but rank Pedants? and yet these are the Men [who [3]] value themselves most on their Exemption from the Pedantry of Colleges.