Do not be surprized, most holy Father, at seeing, instead of a Coxcomb to laugh at, your old Friend who has taken this way of Access to admonish you of your own Folly. Can any thing shew your Holiness how unworthily you treat Mankind, more than my being put upon this Difficulty to speak with you? It is a degree of Folly to delight to see it in others, and it is the greatest Insolence imaginable to rejoice in the Disgrace of human Nature. It is a criminal Humility in a Person of your Holiness’s Understanding, to believe you cannot excel but in the Conversation of Half-wits, Humorists, Coxcombs, and Buffoons. If your Holiness has a mind to be diverted like a rational Man, you have a great opportunity for it, in disrobing all the Impertinents you have favour’d, of all their Riches and Trappings at once, and bestowing them on the Humble, the Virtuous, and the Meek. If your Holiness is not concerned for the sake of Virtue and Religion, be pleased to reflect, that for the sake of your own Safety it is not proper to be so very much in jest. When the Pope is thus merry, the People will in time begin to think many things, which they have hitherto beheld with great Veneration, are in themselves Objects of Scorn and Derision. If they once get a Trick of knowing how to laugh, your Holiness’s saying this Sentence in one Night-Cap and t’other with the other, the change of your Slippers, bringing you your Staff in the midst of a Prayer, then stripping you of one Vest and clapping on a second during divine Service, will be found out to have nothing in it. Consider, Sir, that at this rate a Head will be reckoned never the wiser for being Bald; and the ignorant will be apt to say, that going bare-foot does not at all help on in the way to Heaven. The red Cap and the Coul will fall under the same Contempt; and the Vulgar will tell us to our Faces that we shall have no Authority over them, but from the Force of our Arguments, and the Sanctity of our Lives.
[Footnote 1: Founded on Note F to Bayle’s account of Leo X.]
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No. 498. Wednesday, October 1, 1712. Steele.
Fertur equis Auriga, neque audit currus habenas.’
To the SPECTATOR-GENERAL of Great Britain.
From the farther end of the Widow’s
Coffee-house in Devereaux Court,
Monday Evening, twenty eight Minutes and a Half past Six.