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No. 324 (from The Spectator) Post by :bruce7872 Category :Essays Author :Richard Steele Date :September 2011 Read :3679

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No. 324 (from The Spectator)

No. 324
Wednesday, March 12, 1712. Steele.

(O curvae in terris animae, et coelestium inanes.

Pers (1).)


The Materials you have collected together towards a general History of Clubs, make so bright a Part of your Speculations, that I think it is but a Justice we all owe the learned World to furnish you with such Assistances as may promote that useful Work. For this Reason I could not forbear communicating to you some imperfect Informations of a Set of Men (if you will allow them a place in that Species of Being) who have lately erected themselves into a Nocturnal Fraternity, under the Title of the Mohock Club, a Name borrowed it seems from a sort of Cannibals in India, who subsist by plundering and devouring all the Nations about them. The President is styled Emperor of the Mohocks; and his Arms are a Turkish Crescent, which his Imperial Majesty bears at present in a very extraordinary manner engraven upon his Forehead. Agreeable to their Name, the avowed design of their Institution is Mischief; and upon this Foundation all their Rules and Orders are framed. An outrageous Ambition of doing all possible hurt to their Fellow-Creatures, is the great Cement of their Assembly, and the only Qualification required in the Members. In order to exert this Principle in its full Strength and Perfection, they take care to drink themselves to a pitch, that is, beyond the Possibility of attending to any Motions of Reason and Humanity; then make a general Sally, and attack all that are so unfortunate as to walk the Streets through which they patrole. Some are knock'd down, others stabb'd, others cut and carbonado'd. To put the Watch to a total Rout, and mortify some of those inoffensive Militia, is reckon'd a Coup d'eclat. The particular Talents by which these Misanthropes are distinguished from one another, consist in the various kinds of Barbarities which they execute upon their Prisoners. Some are celebrated for a happy Dexterity in tipping the Lion upon them; which is performed by squeezing the Nose flat to the Face, and boring out the Eyes with their Fingers: Others are called the Dancing-Masters, and teach their Scholars to cut Capers by running Swords thro their Legs; a new Invention, whether originally French I cannot tell: A third sort are the Tumblers, whose office it is to set Women on their Heads, and commit certain Indecencies, or rather Barbarities, on the Limbs which they expose. But these I forbear to mention, because they cant but be very shocking to the Reader as well as the SPECTATOR. In this manner they carry on a War against Mankind; and by the standing Maxims of their Policy, are to enter into no Alliances but one, and that is Offensive and Defensive with all Bawdy-Houses in general, of which they have declared themselves Protectors and Guarantees. (2)

I must own, Sir, these are only broken incoherent Memoirs of this wonderful Society, but they are the best I have been yet able to procure; for being but of late Establishment, it is not ripe for a just History; And to be serious, the chief Design of this Trouble is to hinder it from ever being so. You have been pleas'd, out of a concern for the good of your Countrymen, to act under the Character of SPECTATOR, not only the Part of a Looker-on, but an Overseer of their Actions; and whenever such Enormities as this infest the Town, we immediately fly to you for Redress. I have reason to believe, that some thoughtless Youngsters, out of a false Notion of Bravery, and an immoderate Fondness to be distinguished for Fellows of Fire, are insensibly hurry'd into this senseless scandalous Project: Such will probably stand corrected by your Reproofs, especially if you inform them, that it is not Courage for half a score Fellows, mad with Wine and Lust, to set upon two or three soberer than themselves; and that the Manners of Indian Savages are no becoming Accomplishments to an English fine Gentleman. Such of them as have been Bullies and Scowrers of a long standing, and are grown Veterans in this kind of Service, are, I fear, too hardned to receive any Impressions from your Admonitions. But I beg you would recommend to their Perusal your ninth Speculation: They may there be taught to take warning from the Club of Duellists; and be put in mind, that the common Fate of those Men of Honour was to be hang'd.

I am, SIR,

Your most humble Servant,


March the 10th, 1711-12.

The following Letter is of a quite contrary nature; but I add it here, that the Reader may observe at the same View, how amiable Ignorance may be when it is shewn in its Simplicities, and how detestable in Barbarities. It is written by an honest Countryman to his Mistress, and came to the Hands of a Lady of good Sense wrapped about a Thread-Paper, who has long kept it by her as an Image of artless Love.

To her I very much respect, Mrs. Margaret Clark.

Lovely, and oh that I could write loving Mrs. Margaret Clark, I pray you let Affection excuse Presumption. Having been so happy as to enjoy the Sight of your sweet Countenance and comely Body, sometimes when I had occasion to buy Treacle or Liquorish Powder at the Apothecary's Shop, I am so enamoured with you, that I can no more keep close my flaming Desire to become your Servant. And I am the more bold now to write to your sweet self, because I am now my own Man, and may match where I please; for my Father is taken away, and now I am come to my Living, which is Ten Yard Land, and a House; and there is never a Yard of Land in our Field but it is as well worth ten Pound a Year, as a Thief is worth a Halter; and all my Brothers and Sisters are provided for: Besides I have good Houshold-stuff, though I say it, both Brass and Pewter, Linnens and Woollens; and though my House be thatched, yet, if you and I match, it shall go hard but I will have one half of it slated. If you think well of this Motion, I will wait upon you as soon as my new Cloaths is made and Hay Harvest is in. I could, though I say it, have good--

The rest is torn off; (3) and Posterity must be contented to know, that Mrs. Margaret Clark was very pretty, but are left in the dark as to the Name of her Lover.


(Footnote 1:

(Saevis inter se convenit Ursis.


(Footnote 2: Gay tells also in his Trivia that the Mohocks rolled women in hogs-heads down Snow hill. Swift wrote of the Mohocks, at this time, in his Journal to Stella,

Grub-street papers about them fly like lightning, and a list printed of near eighty put into several prisons, and all a lie, and I begin to think there is no truth, or very little, in the whole story.

On the 18th of March an attempt was made to put the Mohocks down by Royal Proclamation.)

(Footnote 3: This letter is said to have been really sent to one who married Mr. Cole, a Northampton attorney, by a neighbouring freeholder named Gabriel Bullock, and shown to Steele by his friend the antiquary, Browne Willis. See also No. 328.)

(The end)
Richard Steele's essay: No. 324 (from The Spectator)

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No. 323 (from The Spectator)
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