Monday, May 12, 1712. Steele.
‘–Pavone ex Pythagoreo–‘
I have observed that the Officer you some time ago appointed as Inspector of Signs, has not done his Duty so well as to give you an Account of very many strange Occurrences in the publick Streets, which are worthy of, but have escaped your Notice. Among all the Oddnesses which I have ever met with, that which I am now telling you of gave me most Delight. You must have observed that all the Criers in the Street attract the Attention of the Passengers, and of the Inhabitants in the several Parts, by something very particular in their Tone it self, in the dwelling upon a Note, or else making themselves wholly unintelligible by a Scream. The Person I am so delighted with has nothing to sell, but very gravely receives the Bounty of the People, for no other Merit but the Homage they pay to his Manner of signifying to them that he wants a Subsidy. You must, sure, have heard speak of an old Man, who walks about the City, and that part of the Suburbs which lies beyond the Tower, performing the Office of a Day-Watchman, followed by a Goose, which bears the Bob of his Ditty, and confirms what he says with a Quack, Quack. I gave little heed to the mention of this known Circumstance, till, being the other day in those Quarters, I passed by a decrepit old Fellow with a Pole in his Hand, who just then was bawling out, Half an Hour after one a-Clock, and immediately a dirty Goose behind him made her Response, Quack, Quack. I could not forbear attending this grave Procession for the length of half a Street, with no small amazement to find the whole Place so familiarly acquainted with a melancholy Mid-night Voice at Noon-day, giving them the Hour, and exhorting them of the Departure of Time, with a Bounce at their Doors. While I was full of this Novelty, I went into a Friend’s House, and told him how I was diverted with their whimsical Monitor and his Equipage. My Friend gave me the History; and interrupted my Commendation of the Man, by telling me the Livelihood of these two Animals is purchased rather by the good Parts of the Goose, than of the Leader: For it seems the Peripatetick who walked before her was a Watchman in that Neighbourhood; and the Goose of her self by frequent hearing his Tone, out of her natural Vigilance, not only observed, but answer’d it very regularly from Time to Time. The Watchman was so affected with it, that he bought her, and has taken her in Partner, only altering their Hours of Duty from Night to Day. The Town has come into it, and they live very comfortably. This is the Matter of Fact: Now I desire you, who are a profound Philosopher, to consider this Alliance of Instinct and Reason; your Speculation may turn very naturally upon the Force the superior Part of Mankind may have upon the Spirits of such as, like this Watchman, may be very near the Standard of Geese. And you may add to this practical Observation, how in all Ages and Times the World has been carry’d away by odd unaccountable things, which one would think would pass upon no Creature which had Reason; and, under the Symbol of this Goose, you may enter into the Manner and Method of leading Creatures, with their Eyes open, thro’ thick and thin, for they know not what, they know not why.
All which is humbly submitted to your Spectatorial Wisdom by, SIR, Your most humble Servant, Michael Gander.
I have for several Years had under my Care the Government and Education of young Ladies, which Trust I have endeavour’d to discharge with due regard to their several Capacities and Fortunes: I have left nothing undone to imprint in every one of them an humble courteous Mind, accompanied with a graceful becoming Mein, and have made them pretty much acquainted with the Houshold Part of Family-Affairs; but still I find there is something very much wanting in the Air of my Ladies, different from what I observe in those that are esteemed your fine bred Women. Now, Sir, I must own to you, I never suffered my Girls to learn to Dance; but since I have read your Discourse of Dancing, where you have described the Beauty and Spirit there is in regular Motion, I own my self your Convert, and resolve for the future to give my young Ladies that Accomplishment. But upon imparting my Design to their Parents, I have been made very uneasy, for some Time, because several of them have declared, that if I did not make use of the Master they recommended, they would take away their Children. There was Colonel Jumper’s Lady, a Colonel of the Train-Bands, that has a great Interest in her Parish; she recommends Mr. Trott for the prettiest Master in Town, that no Man teaches a Jigg like him, that she has seen him rise six or seven Capers together with the greatest Ease imaginable, and that his Scholars twist themselves more ways than the Scholars of any Master in Town: besides there is Madam Prim, an Alderman’s Lady, recommends a Master of her own Name, but she declares he is not of their Family, yet a very extraordinary Man in his way; for besides a very soft Air he has in Dancing, he gives them a particular Behaviour at a Tea-Table, and in presenting their Snuff-Box, to twirl, flip, or flirt a Fan, and how to place Patches to the best advantage, either for Fat or Lean, Long or Oval Faces: for my Lady says there is more in these Things than the World Imagines. But I must confess the major Part of those I am concern’d with leave it to me. I desire therefore, according to the inclosed Direction, you would send your Correspondent who has writ to you on that Subject to my House. If proper Application this way can give Innocence new Charms, and make Virtue legible in the Countenance, I shall spare no Charge to make my Scholars in their very Features and Limbs bear witness how careful I have been in the other Parts of their Education.
I am, SIR,
Your most humble Servant,