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to my friend's house about eleven o'clock, with a design to renew my visit; but upon asking for him, his servant told me he was just sat down to dinner. In short, I found that my oldfashioned friend religiously adhered to the example of his forefathers, and observed the same hours that had been kept in the family ever since the Conquest.
It is very plain that the night was much longer formerly in this island than it is at present. By the night I mean that portion of time which nature has thrown into darkness, and which the wisdom of mankind had formerly dedicated to rest and silence. This used to begin at eight o'clock in the evening, and conclude at six in the morning. The curfew, or eight o'clock bell, was the signal throughout the nation for putting out their candles and going to bed.
Our grandmothers, though they were wont to sit up the last in the family, were all of them fast asleep at the same hours that their daughters are busy at crimp and basset. Modern statesmen are concerting schemes, and engaged in the depth of politics, at the time when their forefathers were laid down quietly to rest, and had nothing in their heads but dreams. As we have thus thrown business and pleasure into the hours of rest, and by that means made the natural night but half as long as it should be, we are forced to piece it out with a great part of the morning; so that near two-thirds of the nation lie fast asleep for several hours in broad daylight. This irregularity is grown so very fashionable at present, that there is scarce a lady of quality in Great Britain that ever saw the sun rise. And if the humor increases in proportion to what it has done of late years, it is not impossible but our children may hear the bellman going about the streets at nine o'clock in the morning, and the watch making their rounds till eleven.
This unaccountable disposition in mankind to continue awake in the night, and sleep in sunshine, has made me inquire whether the same change of inclination has happened to any other animals. For this reason I desired a friend of mine in the country to let me know whether the lark rises as early as he did formerly, and whether the cock begins to crow at his usual hour. My friend has answered me that his poultry are as regular as ever, and that all the birds and the beasts of his neighborhood keep the same hours that they have observed in the
memory of man, and the same which, in all probability, they have kept for these five thousand years.
If you would see the innovations that have been made among us in this particular, you may only look into the hours of colleges, where they still dine at eleven and sup at six, which were doubtless the hours of the whole nation at the time when those places were founded. But at present the courts of justice are scarce opened in Westminster Hall at the time when William Rufus used to go to dinner in it. All business is driven forward: the landmarks of our fathers (if I may so call them) are removed, and planted further up into the day; insomuch that I am afraid our clergy will be obliged, if they expect full congregations, not to look any more upon ten o'clock in the morning as a canonical hour. In my own memory the dinner has crept by degrees from twelve o'clock to three, and where it will fix nobody knows. I have sometimes thought to draw up a memorial in the behalf of supper against dinner, setting forth that the said dinner has made several encroachments upon the said supper, and entered very far upon his frontiers; that he has banished him out of several families, and in all has driven him from his headquarters, and forced him to make his retreat into the hours of midnight; and, in short, that he is now in danger of being entirely confounded and lost in a breakfast. . . .
For my own part, I value an hour in the morning as much as common libertines do an hour at midnight. When I find myself awakened into being, and perceive my life renewed within me, and at the same time see the whole face of nature recovered out of the dark uncomfortable state in which it lay for several hours, my heart overflows with such secret sentiments of joy and gratitude as are a kind of implicit praise to the great Author of Nature. The mind in these early seasons of the day is so refreshed in all its faculties, and borne up with such new supplies of animal spirits, that she finds herself in a state of youth, especially when she is entertained with the breath of flowers, the melody of birds, the dews that hang upon the plants, and all those other sweets of nature that are peculiar to the morning. It is impossible for a man to have this relish of being, this exquisite taste of life, who does not come into the world before it is in all its noise and hurry; who loses the rising of the sun, the still hours of the day, and immediately
upon his first getting up plunges himself into the ordinary cares or follies of the world.
I shall conclude this paper with Milton's inimitable description of Adam's awakening his Eve in Paradise, which indeed would have been a place as little delightful as a barren heath or desert, to those who slept in it.
[This periodical was founded jointly by Steele and Addison, and was issued six times a week, from March, 1711, to December, 1712, amounting to 555 numbers; of these Steele wrote some 236. In 1712 the papers were selling at some 10,000 per week, and in bound volumes they had no less success. The supposed author of this periodical was the gentleman called "the Spectator," whose character was sketched by Addison in the first number, and further described by Steele in the fourth, here reproduced.]
No. 4. MONDAY, MARCH 5, 1711
Egregii mortalem altique silentii. - HOR.
An author, when he first appears in the world, is very apt to believe it has nothing to think of but his performances. With a good share of this vanity in my heart, I made it my business these three days to listen after my own fame; and as I have sometimes met with circumstances which did not displease me, I have been encountered by others which gave me much mortification. It is incredible to think how empty I have in this time observed some part of the species to be, what mere blanks they are when they first come abroad in the morning, how utterly they are at a stand until they are set a-going by some paragraph in a newspaper. Such persons are very acceptable to a young author, for they desire no more in anything but to be new, to be agreeable. If I found consolation among such, I was as much disquieted by the incapacity of others. These are mortals who have a certain curiosity without power of reflection, and perused my papers like spectators rather than readers. But there is so little pleasure in inquiries that so nearly concern ourselves (it being the worst way in the world to fame, to be too anxious about it), that upon the whole I resolved for the future to go on in my ordinary way, and, without too much fear or hope about the business of reputation, to
be very careful of the design of my actions, but very negligent of the consequences of them.
It is an endless and frivolous pursuit to act by any other rule than the care of satisfying our own minds in what we do. One would think a silent man, who concerned himself with no one breathing, should be very little liable to misrepresentations; and yet I remember I was once taken up for a Jesuit, for no other reason but my profound taciturnity. It is from this misfortune that, to be out of harm's way, I have ever since affected crowds. He who comes into assemblies only to gratify his curiosity, and not to make a figure, enjoys the pleasures of retirement in a more exquisite degree than he possibly could in his closet; the lover, the ambitious, and the miser, are followed thither by a worse crowd than any they can withdraw from. To be exempt from the passions with which others are tormented, is the only pleasing solitude. I can very justly say with the sage, "I am never less alone than when alone."
As I am insignificant to the company in public places, and as it is visible I do not come thither as most do, to show myself, I gratify the vanity of all who pretend to make an appearance, and have often as kind looks from well-dressed gentlemen and ladies as a poet would bestow upon one of his audience. There are so many gratifications attend this public sort of obscurity, that some little distastes I daily receive have lost their anguish; and I did, the other day, without the least displeasure, overhear one say of me, "That strange fellow"; and another answer, "I have known the fellow's face these twelve years, and so must you; but I believe you are the first ever asked who he was." There are, I must confess, many to whom my person is as well known as that of their neaicst relations, who give themselves no farther trouble about calling me by my name or quality, but speak of me very currently by the appellation of Mr. What-d'ye-call-him.
To make up for these trivial disadvantages, I have the highest satisfaction of beholding all nature with an unprejudiced eye, and, having nothing to do with men's passions or interests, I can, with the greater sagacity, consider their talents, manners, failings, and merits. It is remarkable that those who want any one sense, possess the others with greater force and vivacity. Thus my want of, or rather resignation of, speech
gives me the advantages of a dumb man. I have, methinks, a more than ordinary penetration in seeing, and flatter myself that I have looked into the highest and lowest of mankind, and made shrewd guesses, without being admitted to their conversation, at the inmost thoughts and reflections of all whom I behold. It is from hence that good or ill fortune has no manner of force towards affecting my judgment. I see men flourishing in courts, and languishing in jails, without being prejudiced from their circumstances to their favor or disadvantage; but, from their inward manner of bearing their condition, often pity the prosperous and admire the unhappy.
Those who converse with the dumb know from the turn of their eyes, and the changes of their countenance, their sentiments of the objects before them. I have indulged my silence to such an extravagance, that the few who are intimate with me answer my smiles with concurrent sentences, and argue to the very point I shaked my head at, without my speaking. Will Honeycomb was very entertaining the other night at a play, to a gentleman who sat on his right hand, while I was at his left. The gentleman believed Will was talking to himself, when, upon my looking with great approbation at a young thing in a box before us, he said, "I am quite of another opinion. She has, I will allow, a very pleasing aspect, but methinks that simplicity in her countenance is rather childish than innocent." When I observed her a second time, he said, "I grant her dress is very becoming, but perhaps the merit of that choice is owing to her mother; for though," continued he, "I allow a beauty to be as much to be commended for the elegance of her dress as a wit for that of his language, yet if she has stolen the color of her ribands from another, or had advice about her trimmings, I shall not allow her the praise of dress any more than I would call a plagiary an author."
When I threw my eye towards the next woman to her, Will spoke what I looked, according to his romantic imagination, in the following manner: "Behold, you who dare, that charming virgin! behold the beauty of her person chastised by the innocence of her thoughts. Chastity, good-nature, and affability are the graces that play in her countenance; she knows she is handsome, but she knows she is good. Conscious beauty adorned with conscious virtue! What a spirit is there in those