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after a little muttering, she cried out, "What do you do? Let my petticoat alone." I was startled at first, but soon found that she was in a dream; being one of those who, to use Shakspeare's expression, 66 are so loose of thought," that they utter in their sleep every thing that passes in their imagination. I left the apartment of this female rake, and went into her neighbour's, where there lay a male coquette. He had a bottle of salts hanging over his head, and upon the table by his bed-side Suckling's Poems, with a little heap of black patches on it. His snuff-box was within reach on a chair: but while I was admiring the disposition which he made of the several parts of his dress, his slumber seemed interrupted by a pang that was accompanied by a sudden oath, as he turned himself over hastily in his bed. I did not care for seeing him in his nocturnal pains, and left the room.
I was no sooner got into another bed-chamber, but I heard very harsh words uttered in a smooth uniform tone. I was amazed to hear so great a volubility in reproach, and thought it too coherent to be spoken by one asleep; but, upon looking nearer, I saw the head-dress of the person who spoke, which showed her to be a female, with a man lying by her side, broad awake, and as quiet as a lamb. I could not but admire his exemplary patience, and discovered by his whole behaviour, that he was then lying under the discipline of a curtain lecture.
I was entertained in many other places with this kind of nocturnal eloquence; but observed, that most of those whom I found awake were kept so either by envy or by love. Some of these were sighing, and others cursing, in soliloquy; some hugged their pillows, and others gnashed their teeth.
The covetous I likewise found to be a very wakeful people. I happened to come into a room where one of them lay sick. His physician and his wife
were in a close whisper by his bed-side. I overheard the doctor say to the poor gentlewoman, cannot possibly live until five in the morning.' received it like the mistress of a family prepared for all events. At the same instant came in a servant maid, who said, " Madam, the undertaker is below, according to your order." The words were scarce out of her mouth, when the sick man cried out with a feeble voice, " Pray, doctor, how went Bankstock to-day at 'Change?" This melancholy object made me too serious for diverting myself further this way. As I was going home, I saw a light in a garret, and entering into it, heard a voice cry. ing, and, hand, stand, band, fanned, tanned. I concluded him by this, and the furniture of his room, to be a lunatic; but, upon listening a little longer, perceived it was a poet, writing a heroic upon the ensuing peace.
It was now towards morning, an hour when spirits, witches, and conjurors, are obliged to retire to their own apartments, and feeling the influence of it, I was hastening home, when I saw a man had got half way into a neighbour's house. I immediately called to him, and turning my ring, appeared in my proper person. There is something magisterial in the aspect of the Bickerstaffs, which made him run away in
As I took a turn or two in my own lodging, I was thinking that old as I was, I need not go to bed alone, but that it was in my power to marry the finest lady in this kingdom, if I would wed her with this ring. For what a figure would she that should have it make at a visit, with so perfect a knowledge as this would give her of all the scandal in the town? But, instead of endeavouring to dispose of myself and it in matrimony, I resolved to lend it to my loving friend, the author of the "Atalantis," to furnish a new "Secret History of Secret Memoirs."
N° 244. TUESDAY, OCTOBER 31, 1710.
Quid voveat dulci nutricula majus alumno,
HOR. 1 Ep. iv. 8.
What can the fondest mother wish for more,
Will's Coffee-house, October 30. It is no easy matter, when people are advancing in any thing, to prevent their going too fast for want of patience. This happens in nothing more frequently than in the prosecution of studies. Hence it is, that we meet crowds who attempt to be eloquent before they can speak. They affect the flowers of rhetoric before they understand the parts of speech. In the ordinary conversation of this town, there are so many who can, as they call it, talk well, that there is not one in twenty that talks to be understood. This proceeds from an ambition to excel, or, as the term is, to shine in company. The matter is not to make themselves understood, but admired. They come together with a certain emulation, rather than benevolence. When you fall among such companions, the safe way is to give yourself up, and let the orators declaim for your esteem, and trouble yourself no farther. It is said, that a poet must be born so; but I think it may be much better said of an orator, especially when we talk of our town poets and orators; but the town poets are full of rules and laws; the town orators go through thick and thin, and are, forsooth, persons of such eminent natural parts, and knowledge of the world, that they despise all men as unexperienced scholastics, who wait for an occasion before they speak, or who speak no more than is necessary. They had half persuaded me to go to the tavern the other night, but that a gentleman
whispered me, "Prythee, Isaac, go with us; there is Tom Varnish will be there, and he is a fellow that talks as well as any man in England.",
I must confess, when a man expresses himself well upon any occasion, and his falling into an account of any subject arises from a desire to oblige the company, or from fullness of the circumstance itself, so that his speaking of it at large is occasioned only by the openness of a companion; I say, in such a case as this, it is not only pardonable, but agreeable, when a man takes a discourse to himself; but when you see a fellow watch for opportunities for being copious, it is excessively troublesome. A man that stammers, if he has understanding, is to be attended to with patience and good-nature; but he that speaks more than he needs, has no right to such an indulgence. The man who has a defect in his speech takes pains to come to you, while a man of weak capacity, with fluency of speech, triumphs in outrunning you. The stammerer strives to be fit for your company; the loquacious man endeavours to show you, you are not fit for his.
With thoughts of this kind do I always enter into that man's company who is recommended as a person that talks well; but if I were to choose the people with whom I would spend my hours of conversation, they should be certainly such as laboured no farther than to make themselves readily and clearly apprehended, and would have patience and curiosity to understand me. To have good sense, and ability to express it, are the most essential and necessary qualities in companions. When thoughts rise in us fit to utter, among familiar friends there needs but very little care in clothing them.
Urbanus is, I take it, a man one might live with whole years, and enjoy all the freedom and improvement imaginable, and yet be insensible of a contradiction to you in all the mistakes you can be guilty
of. His great good-will to his friends, has produced in him such a general deference in his discourse, that if he differs from you in his sense of any thing, he introduces his own thoughts by some agreeable circumlocution; or, "he has often observed such and such a circumstance that made him of another opinion." Again, where another would be apt to say, this I am confident of, I may pretend to judge of this matter as well as any body;" Urbanus says, "I am verily persuaded; I believe, one may conclude." In a word, there is no man more clear in his thoughts and expressions than he is, or speaks with greater diffidence. You shall hardly find one man of any consideration, but you shall observe one of less consequence form himself after him. This happens to Urbanus; but the man who steals from him almost every sentiment he utters in a whole week, disguises the theft by carrying it with a quite different air. Umbratilis knows Urbanus's doubtful way of speaking proceeds from good-nature and good-breeding, and not from uncertainty in his opinions. Umbratilis, therefore, has no more to do but repeat the thoughts of Urbanus in a positive manner and appear to the undiscerning a wiser man than the person from whom he borrows: but those who know him, can see the servant in his master's habit; and the more he struts, the less do his clothes appear his own.
In conversation, the medium is neither to affect silence or eloquence; not to value our approbation, and to endeavour to excel us who are of your company, are equal injuries. The great enemies therefore to good company, and those who transgress most against the laws of equality, which is the life of it, are, the clown, the wit, and the pedant. A clown, when he has sense, is conscious of his want of education, and, with an awkward bluntness, hopes to keep himself in countenance by overthrow