« ForrigeFortsett »
know that he writ his book in the country, that he did it to pass away some of his idle hours, that it was published at the importunity of friends, or that his natural temper, studies or conversations, directed him to the choice of his fubject.
Id populus curat fiilicet. Such informations cannot be highly improving to the reader.
In works of Humour especially, when a man writes under a fictitious personage, the talking of one's self may give fome diversion to the public ; but I would advise every other writer never to speak of himself, unless there be something very considerable in his character: though I am sensible this rule will be of little use in the world, because there is no man who fancies his thoughts worth publishing that does not look upon himself as a considerable person.
I shall close this Paper with a remark upon such as are Egotists in conversation: these are generally the vain or shallow part of mankind, people being naturally full of themselves when they have nothing else in them. There is one kind of Egotists which is very common in the world, though I do not remember that any writer has taken notice of them ; I mean those empty conceited fellows who repeat, as sayings of their own or some of their particular friends, several jests which were made before they were born, and which every one who has conversed: in the world has heard a hundred times over.
A forward young fellow of my acquaintance was very guilty of this absurdity: he would be always laying a new scene for some old piece of wit, and telling us that, as he and Jack such-aone were together, one or t’other of them had such a conceit on such an occasion ; upon which he would laugh very heartily, and wonder the company did not join with him. When his mirth was over, I have often reprehended him out of Terence, Tuumne obfecro te, hoc di&tum erat? vetus credidi. But finding him still incorrigible, and having a kindness for the young coxcomb, who was otherwise a good-natured fellow, I recommended to his perusal the Oxford and Cambridge jests, with several little pieces of pleafantry of the fame nature. Upon the reading of them he was under no small confusion to find that all his jokes had passed through several editions, and that what he thought was a new conceit, and had appropriated to his own use, had appeared in print before he or his ingenious friends were ever heard of. This had to good an effect upon him, that he is content at present to pass for a man of plain sense in his ordinary converfation, and is never facetious but when he knows his
company. * By Addison. The Papers in this eighth volume were not originally distinguished, as in the preceding volumes, by fignatures or capital letters at the ends of them. The assignments of all ADDISON's Papers in this edition rest entirely on the authority of Mr. Í. Tickell, who lived familiarly with that gentleinan, and had no doubt satisfactory reasons for re-publishing them in his edition of Addison's “ Works," 4to. 4 vols.
In the seven preceding volumes Mr. Tickell was guided by STEELE's List.
N° 563. Monday, July 5, 1714.
LUCAN. i. 135
Magni nominis umbra. · The shadow of a mighty name.'
SHALL entertain my reader with two very
curious letters. The first of them comes from a chimerical person, who I believe never writ to
any body before.
all men of business. It is always read in those
little white spaces of writing which want to • be filled up, and which for that reason are • called blank spaces, as of right appertaining to
our family : for I consider myself as the lord * of a manor, who lays his claim to all wastes
or spots of ground that are unappropriated. I am a near kinsman to John a Styles and John
a Noakes; and they, I am told, came in with ' the Conqueror. I am mentioned oftener in • both houses of parliament than any
per • fon in Great Britain. My name is written, or, more properly speaking, not written thus
I am one that can turn my • hand to every thing, and appear under any
shape whatsoever. I can make myself man, woman, or child. I am sometimes metamor
phosed into a year of our Lord, a day of the month, or an hour of the day. I
often represent a fum of money, and am generally • the first subsidy that is granted to the crown. • I have now and then fupplied the place of • several thousands of land foldiers, and have as frequently been employed in the sea-service.
Now, Sir, my complaint is this, that I am only made ute of to serve a turn, being always • discarded as soon as a proper person is found out • to fill up my place.
• If you have ever been in the play-house be• fore the curtain rises, you see the most of the · front-boxes filled with men of my family, who
forthwith turn out and resign their stations upon the appearance of those for whom they are retained. • But the most illustrious branch of the Blanks are those who are planted in high posts, till
such time as persons of greater consequence can • be found out to supply them. One of these • Blanks is equally qualified for all offices ; he « can serve in time of need for a soldier, a poli' tician, a lawyer, or what you please. I have • known in my time many a brother Blank that • has been born under a lucky planet, heap up
great riches, and swell into a man of figure . and importance, before the grandees of his * party could agree among themselves which of • them should step into his place. Nay, I have
known a Blank continue so long in one of • these vacant posts, (for such it is to be reckon• ed all the time a Blank is in it) that he has
grown too formidable and dangerous to be re6 moved.
But to return to myself. Since I am so very • commodious a person, and so very necessary ' in all well-regulated governments, I desire
you • will take my case into consideration, that I • may be no longer made a tool of and only employed to stop a gap. Such usage, without a
pun, makes me look very Blank. For all • which reasons I humbly recommend myself to your protection, and am • Your most obedient servant,
P.S. “I herewith send you a Paper drawn up by a country-attorney, employed by two gen
tlemen, whose names he was not acquainted ' with, and who did not think fit to let him into • the secret which they were transacting. I heard
him call it a Blank INSTRUMENT, and read it • after the following manner.
may see by • this single instance of what use I am to the
“ I, T. Blank, Esquire, of Blank town, in “ the county of Blank, do own myself indebt" ed in the sum of Blank, to Goodman Blank, “ for the service he did me in procuring for me " the goods following, Blank: and I do hereby “ 'promite the faid Blank to pay unto him the " said sum of Blank, on the Blank day of the “ month of Blank next ensuing, under the pe" nalty and forfeiture of Blank,