The Spectator, Volume 2. eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,123 pages of information about The Spectator, Volume 2..


I was last Wednesday Night at a Tavern in the City, among a Set of Men who call themselves the Lawyer’s Club.  You must know, Sir, this Club consists only of Attorneys; and at this Meeting every one proposes the Cause he has then in hand to the Board, upon which each Member gives his Judgment according to the Experience he has met with.  If it happens that any one puts a Case of which they have had no Precedent, it is noted down by their Clerk Will.  Goosequill, (who registers all their Proceedings) that one of them may go the next Day with it to a Counsel.  This indeed is commendable, and ought to be the principal End of their Meeting; but had you been there to have heard them relate their Methods of managing a Cause, their Manner of drawing out their Bills, and, in short, their Arguments upon the several ways of abusing their Clients, with the Applause that is given to him who has done it most artfully, you would before now have given your Remarks on them.  They are so conscious that their Discourses ought to be kept secret, that they are very cautious of admitting any Person who is not of their Profession.  When any who are not of the Law are let in, the Person who introduces him, says, he is a very honest Gentleman, and he is taken in, as their Cant is, to pay Costs.  I am admitted upon the Recommendation of one of their Principals, as a very honest good-natured Fellow that will never be in a Plot, and only desires to drink his Bottle and smoke his Pipe.  You have formerly remarked upon several Sorts of Clubs; and as the Tendency of this is only to increase Fraud and Deceit, I hope you will please to take Notice of it.  I am (with Respect) Your humble Servant, H. R.


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No. 373.  Thursday, May 8, 1712.  Budgell.

  ‘[Fallit enim Vitium specie virtutis et umbra.’

  Juv. [1]]

Mr. Locke, in his Treatise of Human Understanding, has spent two Chapters upon the Abuse of Words. [2] The first and most palpable Abuse of Words, he says, is, when they are used without clear and distinct Ideas:  The second, when we are so inconstant and unsteady in the Application of them, that we sometimes use them to signify one Idea, sometimes another.  He adds, that the Result of our Contemplations and Reasonings, while we have no precise Ideas fixed to our Words, must needs be very confused and absurd.  To avoid this Inconvenience, more especially in moral Discourses, where the same Word should constantly be used in the same Sense, he earnestly recommends the use of Definitions.  A Definition, says he, is the only way whereby the precise Meaning of Moral Words can be known.  He therefore accuses those of great Negligence, who Discourse of Moral things with the least Obscurity in the Terms they make use of, since upon the forementioned ground he does not scruple to say, that he thinks Morality is capable of Demonstration as well as the Mathematicks.

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The Spectator, Volume 2. from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.