The Spectator, No. 324 (12 March 1712)

Steele, Richard
John Simon, ‘Four Indian Kings of Canada’, Magazine of American History, c. 1700.


"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."

Mr. Spectator,

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'éclat. 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 can't 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.

'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 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,



Text taken from Spectator, no 324 (12 March 1712). Full text of The Spectator from