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No. 043 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

No. 43
Thursday, April 19, 1711. Steele.
‘Ha tibi erunt artes; pacisque imponere morem,
Parcere Subjectis, et debellare Superbos.’


There are Crowds of Men, whose great Misfortune it is that they were not bound to Mechanick Arts or Trades; it being absolutely necessary for them to be led by some continual Task or Employment. These are such as we commonly call dull Fellows; Persons, who for want of something to do, out of a certain Vacancy of Thought, rather than Curiosity, are ever meddling with things for which they are unfit. I cannot give you a Notion of them better than by presenting you with a Letter from a Gentleman, who belongs to a Society of this Order of Men, residing at Oxford.

Oxford, April 13, 1711. Four a Clock in the Morning.


‘In some of your late Speculations, I find some Sketches towards an History of Clubs: But you seem to me to shew them in somewhat too ludicrous a Light. I have well weighed that Matter, and think, that the most important Negotiations may best be carried on in such Assemblies. I shall therefore, for the Good of Mankind, (which, I trust, you and I are equally concerned for) propose an Institution of that Nature for Example sake.

I must confess, the Design and Transactions of too many Clubs are trifling, and manifestly of no consequence to the Nation or Publick Weal: Those I’ll give you up. But you must do me then the Justice to own, that nothing can be more useful or laudable than the Scheme we go upon. To avoid Nicknames and Witticisms, we call ourselves The Hebdomadal Meeting: Our President continues for a Year at least, and sometimes four or five: We are all Grave, Serious, Designing Men, in our Way: We think it our Duty, as far as in us lies, to take care the Constitution receives no Harm,–Ne quid detrimenti Res capiat publica–To censure Doctrines or Facts, Persons or Things, which we don’t like; To settle the Nation at home, and to carry on the War abroad, where and in what manner we see fit: If other People are not of our Opinion, we can’t help that. ‘Twere better they were. Moreover, we now and then condescend to direct, in some measure, the little Affairs of our own University.

Verily, Mr. SPECTATOR, we are much offended at the Act for importing French Wines: [1] A Bottle or two of good solid Edifying Port, at honest George’s, made a Night chearful, and threw off Reserve. But this plaguy French Claret will not only cost us more Mony, but do us less Good: Had we been aware of it, before it had gone too far, I must tell you, we would have petitioned to be heard upon that Subject. But let that pass.

I must let you know likewise, good Sir, that we look upon a certain Northern Prince’s March, in Conjunction with Infidels, [2] to be palpably against our Goodwill and Liking; and, for all Monsieur Palmquist, [3] a most dangerous Innovation; and we are by no means yet sure, that some People are not at the Bottom on’t. At least, my own private Letters leave room for a Politician well versed in matters of this Nature, to suspect as much, as a penetrating Friend of mine tells me.

We think we have at last done the business with the Malecontents in Hungary, and shall clap up a Peace there. [4]

What the Neutrality Army [5] is to do, or what the Army in Flanders, and what two or three other Princes, is not yet fully determined among us; and we wait impatiently for the coming in of the next Dyer’s [6] who, you must know, is our Authentick Intelligence, our Aristotle in Politics. And ’tis indeed but fit there should be some Dernier Resort, the Absolute Decider of all Controversies.