« ForrigeFortsett »
424. On Good-humor-The Country Infirmary.
438. On a Passionate Temper–The angry Book-
seller and calm Customer ....
615. On Fear..
624. Division of Mankind into Classes-Pur-
suits of Avarice, Ambition, etc....
THURSDAY, MARCH 1, 1710-11.
Non fumum ex fulgore, sed ex fumo dare lucem,
HoR., Ars. Poet., ver. 143.
I HAVE observed, that a reader seidom peruses a book with pleasure, till he knows whether the writer of it be a black or a fair man, of a mild or choleric disposition, married or a bachelor, with other particulars of 'the like nature, that conduce very much to the right understanding of an author. To gratify this curiosity, which is so natural in a reader, I design this paper and my next as prefatory discourses to my following writings, and shall give some account in them of the several persons that
engaged in this work. As the chief trouble of compiling, digesting, and correcting, will fall to my share, I must do myself the justice to open the work with my own history.
I was born to a small hereditary estate, which, according to the tradition of the village where it lies, was bounded by the same hedges and ditches in William the Conqueror's time that it is at present, and has been delivered down from father to
son, whole and entire, without the loss or acquisition of a single field or meadow, during the space of six hundred years.
As for the rest of my infancy, there being nothing in it remarkable, I shall pass over it in silence. I find that during my nonage, I had the reputation of a very sullen youth, but was always a favorite of my schoolmaster, who used to say, " that my parts were solid, and would wear well. I had not been long at the university, before I distinguished myself by a most profound silence ; for during the space of eight years, excepting in the public exercises of the college, I scarce uttered the quantity of a hundred words; and indeed do not remember that I ever spoke three sentences together in my whole life. While I was in this learned body, I applied myself with so much diligence to my studies, that there are few very celebrated books, either in the learned or the modern tongues, which I am not acquainted with.
Upon the death of my father, I was resolved to travel into foreign countries, and therefore left the university with the character of an odd, unaccountable fellow, that had a great deal of learn. ing, if I would but show it. An insatiable thirst after knowledge carried me into all the countries of Europe in which there was anything new or strange to be seen ; nay, to such a degree was my curiosity raised, that having read the controversies of some great men concerning the antiquities of Egypt, I made a voyage to Grand Cairo on purpose to take the measure of a pyramid ; and as soon as I had set myself right in that particular, returned to my native country with great satisfaction.
I have passed my latter years in this city, where I am frequently seen in most public places, though
there are not above half-a-dozen of my select friends that know me ; of whom my next paper shall give a more particular account. There is no place of general resort wherein I do not often make my appearance. Sometimes I am thrusting my head into a round of politicians at Will's, and listening with great attention to the narratives that are made in those little circular audiences. Sometimes I smoke a pipe at Child's, * and while I seem attentive to nothing but the Postman, overhear the conversation of every table in
I appear on Sunday nights at St. James's coffee house, and sometimes join the little committee of politics in the inner room, as one who comes there to hear and improve. My face is likewise very well known at the Grecian, the Cocoa-tree, and in the theaters both of Drury-lane and the Haymarket. I have been taken for å mer
upon the exchange for above these ten years, and sometimes pass for a Jew in the assembly of stock-jobbers at Jonathan's. In short, wherever I see a cluster of people, I always mix with them, though I never open my lips but in my own club.
Thus I live in the world rather as a Spectator of mankind than as one of the species, by which ineans I have made myself a speculative statesman, soldier, merchant, and artisan, without ever meddling with any practical part in life. I am very well versed in the theory of a husband, or a father, and can discern the errors in the economy, business, and diversions of others, better than those who are engaged in them; as standers-by discover blots, which are apt to escape those who are in the
Child's coffee-house was in St. Paul's church-yard, and the resort of the clergy ; St. James's stood then where it does now; Jonathan's was in Change-alley; and the Rose tavern was on the outside of Temple-bar.
game. I never espoused any party with violence, and am resolved to observe a strict neutrality between the Whigs and Tories, unless I shall be forced to declare myself by the hostilities of either side. In short, I have acted in all the parts of my life as a looker-on, which is the character I intend to preserve in this paper.
I have given the reader just so much of my history and character, as to let him see I am not altogether unqualified for the business I have undertaken. As for other particulars in my
life and adventures I shall insert them in following papers, as I shall see occasion.
In the meantime, when I consider how much I have seen, read, and heard, I begin to blame my own taciturnity; and since I have neither time nor inclination to communicate the fullness of my heart in speech, I am resolved to do it in writing, and to print myself out, if possible, before I die. I have been often told by my friends, that it is pity so many useful discoveries which I have made should be in the possession of a silent man. For this reason, therefore, I shall publish a sheet-full of thoughts every morning, for the benefit of my cotemporaries; and if I can in any way contribute to the diversion or improvement of the country in which I live, I shall leave it when I am summoned out of it, with the secret satisfaction of thinking that I have not lived in vain.
There are three very material points which I have not spoken to in this paper : and which, for several important reasons, I must keep to myseif, at least for some time : I mean an account of my name, age, and lodgings. I must confess, I would gratify my reader in anything that is reasonable ; but as for these three particulars, though I am sensible they might tend very much to the embel