Front Page Titles (by Subject) Tatler, No. 162 - Cato: A Tragedy and Selected Essays
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Tatler, No. 162 - Joseph Addison, Cato: A Tragedy and Selected Essays 
Cato: A Tragedy and Selected Essays, ed. by Christine Dunn Henderson and Mark E. Yellin, with a Foreword by Forrest McDonald (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2004).
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Tatler, No. 162
Saturday, April 22, 1710
Tertius è Caelo cecidit Cato.
From my own Apartment, April 21.
In my younger years I used many endeavours to get a place at Court, and indeed continued my pursuits till I arrived at my Grand Climacterick:2 but at length altogether despairing of success, whether it were for want of capacity, friends, or due application, I at last resolved to erect a new Office, and for my encouragement, to place my self in it. For this reason, I took upon me the title and dignity of Censor of Great Britain, reserving to my self all such Perquisites, Profits, and Emoluments as should arise out of the discharge of the said Office. These in truth have not been inconsiderable; for besides those weekly contributions which I receive from John Morphew, and those annual subscriptions which I propose to my self from the most elegant part of this great Island, I daily live in a very comfortable affluence of Wine, Stale beer, Hungary water, Beef, Books, and Marrow-bones, which I receive from many well-disposed citizens; not to mention the forfeitures which accrue to me from the several offenders that appear before me on Court-days.
Having now enjoyed this office for the space of a twelvemonth, I shall do what all good officers ought to do, take a survey of my behaviour, and consider carefully whether I have discharged my duty, and acted up to the Character with which I am invested. For my direction in this particular, I have made a narrow search into the nature of the old Roman Censors, whom I must always regard, not only as my Predecessors, but as my Patterns in this great employment; and have several times asked my own heart with great impartiality, Whether Cato will not bear a more venerable figure among Posterity than Bickerstaffe?3
I find the duty of the Roman Censor was twofold. The first part of it consisted in making frequent reviews of the people, in casting up their numbers, ranging them under their several tribes, disposing them into proper classes, and subdividing them into their respective centuries.
In compliance with this part of the Office, I have taken many curious surveys of this great City. I have collected into particular bodies the Dappers and the Smarts, the Natural and Affected Rakes, the Pretty fellows and the Very pretty fellows. I have likewise drawn out in several distinct parties your Pedants and Men of fire, your Gamesters and Politicians. I have separated Cits4 from Citizens,Free-thinkers from Philosophers,Wits from Snuff-takers, and Duellists from Men of honour. I have likewise made a calculation of Esquires,5 not only considering the several distinct swarms of them that are settled in the different parts of this town, but also that more rugged species that inhabit the fields and woods, and are often found in pot-houses, and upon hay-cocks.
I shall pass the Soft Sex over in silence, having not yet reduced them into any tolerable order; as likewise the softer tribe of Lovers, which will cost me a great deal of time, before I shall be able to cast them into their several Centuries and Sub-divisions.
The second part of the Roman Censor’s Office was to look into the Manners of the people, and to check any growing Luxury, whether in Diet, Dress, or Building. This Duty likewise I have endeavoured to discharge, by those wholsome precepts which I have given my countrymen in regard to Beef and Mutton, and the severe censures which I have passed upon Ragouts and Fricacies. There is not, as I am informed, a pair of Red heels to be seen within ten miles of London, which I may likewise ascribe, without vanity, to the becoming zeal which I expressed in that particular. I must own, my success with the Petticoat is not so great; but as I have not yet done with it, I hope I shall in a little time put an effectual stop to that growing evil. As for the article of Building, I intend hereafter to enlarge upon it, having lately observed several Warehouses, nay, private Shops, that stand upon Corinthian pillars, and whole rows of Tin pots showing themselves, in order to their sale, through a Sash-window.
I have likewise followed the example of the Roman Censors, in punishing offences according to the quality of the offender. It was usual for them to expel a Senator who had been guilty of great Immoralities out of the Senate-house, by omitting his name when they called over the list of his Brethren. In the same manner, to remove effectually several Worthless men who stand possessed of great honours, I have made frequent draughts of Dead men out of the vicious part of the Nobility, and given them up to the new Society of Upholders, with the necessary orders for their interrment. As the Roman Censors used to punish the Knights or Gentlemen of Rome, by taking away their Horses from them, I have seized the Canes of many Criminals of figure, whom I had just reason to animadvert upon. As for the offenders among the Common people of Rome, they were generally chastised, by being thrown out of a higher Tribe, and placed in one which was not so honourable. My Reader cannot but think I have had an eye to this Punishment, when I have degraded one species of men into Bombs, Squibs, and Crackers, and another into Drums, Bass-viols, and Bagpipes; not to mention whole packs of Delinquents whom I have shut up in Kennels, and the new Hospital which I am at present erecting, for the reception of those of my countrymen who give me but little hopes of their amendment, on the borders of Moor-fields. I shall only observe upon this particular, that since some late surveys I have taken of this Island, I shall think it necessary to enlarge the plan of the buildings which I design in this quarter.
When my great predecessor Cato the Elder6 stood for the Censorship of Rome, there were several other Competitors who offered themselves; and to get an interest among the people, gave them great promises of the mild and gentle treatment which they would use towards them in that Office. Cato on the contrary told them, he presented himself as a Candidate, because he knew the Age was sunk in Immorality and Corruption; and that if they would give him their votes, he would promise them to make use of such a strictness and severity of discipline as should recover them out of it. The Roman Historians, upon this occasion, very much celebrated the Publick-spiritedness of that people, who chose Cato for their Censor, notwithstanding his method of recommending himself. I may in some measure extol my own countrymen upon the same account, who, without any respect to party, or any application from my self, have made such generous Subscriptions for the Censor of Great Britain, as will give a magnificence to my Old age, and which I esteem more than I would any Post in Europe of an hundred times the value. I shall only add, that upon looking into my Catalogue of Subscribers, which I intend to print Alphabetically in the front of my Lucubrations, I find the names of the greatest Beauties and Wits in the whole Island of Great Britain, which I only mention for the benefit of any of them who have not yet subscribed, it being my design to close the Subscription in a very short time.
[1. ]“A third Cato has come down to us from the skies.” Juvenal (a.d. 55–127) Satire 2:40.
[2. ]Critical point or period in any career.
[3. ]A pseudonym invented by Jonathan Swift (1667–1745), and taken up by Addison’s collaborator Richard Steele (1672–1729).
[4. ]Short for citizen; usually applied, more or less contemptuously, to a townsman as distinguished from a countryman, or to a tradesman or shopkeeper as distinguished from a gentleman.
[5. ]Belonging to the higher order of the English gentry, ranking just below a knight.
[6. ]Cato the Elder (234–149 b.c.) was also known as the great Censor (see Cato IV.4, p. 86, n. 14).