Sunday, 24 February 2013

Manners

Manners ancient: Addison in The Spectator, 1711.
There is another Set of Correspondents to whom I must address my self, in the second Place; I mean such as fill their Letters with private Scandal, and black Accounts of particular Persons and Families. The world is so full of Ill-nature, that I have Lampoons sent me by People who cannot spell, and Satyrs compos'd by those who scarce know how to write. By the last Post in particular I receiv'd a Packet of Scandal that is not legible; and have a whole Bundle of Letters in Womens Hands that are full of Blots and Calumnies, insomuch that when I see the Name Cælia, Phillis, Pastora, or the like, at the Bottom of a Scrawl, I conclude on course that it brings me some Account of a fallen Virgin, a faithless Wife, or an amorous Widow. I must therefore inform these my Correspondents, that it is not my Design to be a Publisher of Intreagues and Cuckoldoms, or to bring little infamous Stories out of their present lurking Holes into broad Day light. If I attack the Vicious, I shall only set upon them in a Body: and will not be provoked by the worst Usage that I can receive from others, to make an Example of any particular Criminal. In short, I have so much of a Drawcansir in me, that I shall pass over a single Foe to charge whole Armies. It is not Lais or Silenus, but the Harlot and the Drunkard, whom I shall endeavour to expose; and shall consider the Crime as it appears in a Species, not as it is circumstanced in an Individual. I think it was Caligula who wished the whole City of Rome had but one Neck, that he might behead them at a Blow. I shall do out of Humanity what that Emperor would have done in the Cruelty of his Temper, and aim every Stroak at a collective Body of Offenders. At the same Time I am very sensible, that nothing spreads a Paper like private Calumny and Defamation; but as my Speculations are not under this Necessity, they are not exposed to this Temptation.
 Manners modern, from xkcd.