The Spectator, Volumes 1, 2 and 3 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 3,418 pages of information about The Spectator, Volumes 1, 2 and 3.
and Foes, and, in a word, stand as Butts in Conversation, for every one to shoot at that pleases.  I know several of these Butts, who are Men of Wit and Sense, though by some odd Turn of Humour, some unlucky Cast in their Person or Behaviour, they have always the Misfortune to make the Company merry.  The Truth of it is, a Man is not qualified for a Butt, who has not a good deal of Wit and Vivacity, even in the ridiculous side of his Character.  A stupid Butt is only fit for the Conversation of ordinary People:  Men of Wit require one that will give them Play, and bestir himself in the absurd Part of his Behaviour.  A Butt with these Accomplishments frequently gets the Laugh of his side, and turns the Ridicule upon him that attacks him.  Sir John Falstaff was an Hero of this Species, and gives a good Description of himself in his Capacity of a Butt, after the following manner; Men of all Sorts (says that merry Knight) take a pride to gird at me.  The Brain of Man is not able to invent any thing that tends to Laughter more than I invent, or is invented on me.  I am not only Witty in my self, but the Cause that Wit is in other Men. [3]


[Footnote 1:  Chap. ix.  Sec. 13.  Thomas Hobbes’s ‘Human Nature’ was published in 1650.  He died in 1679, aged 91.]

[Footnote 2:  Boileau’s 4th satire.  John Dennis was at this time a leading critic of the French school, to whom Pope afterwards attached lasting ridicule.  He died in 1734, aged 77.]

[Footnote 3:  ‘Henry IV Part II’ Act I Sec. 2.]

* * * * *

No. 48.  Wednesday, April 25, 1711.  Steele.

      ...  Per multas aditum sibi saepe figuras
      Repperit ...


My Correspondents take it ill if I do not, from Time to Time let them know I have received their Letters.  The most effectual Way will be to publish some of them that are upon important Subjects; which I shall introduce with a Letter of my own that I writ a Fortnight ago to a Fraternity who thought fit to make me an honorary Member.

  To the President and Fellows of the Ugly Club.

  May it please your Deformities,

I have received the Notification of the Honour you have done me, in admitting me into your Society.  I acknowledge my Want of Merit, and for that Reason shall endeavour at all Times to make up my own Failures, by introducing and recommending to the Club Persons of more undoubted Qualifications than I can pretend to.  I shall next Week come down in the Stage-Coach, in order to take my Seat at the Board; and shall bring with me a Candidate of each Sex.  The Persons I shall present to you, are an old Beau and a modern Pict.  If they are not so eminently gifted by Nature as our Assembly expects, give me Leave to say their
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