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care of himself than he has done since his coming to town. You must know, he tells me that he finds London is a much more healthy place than the country ; for he sees several of his old acquaintance and school-fellows are here young fellows with fair full-bottomed periwigs. I could scarce keep him this morning from going out open breasted.' My friend, who is always extremely delighted with her agreeable humour, made her sit down with us. She did it with that easiness which is peculiar to women of sense; and to keep up the good humour she had brought in with her, turned her raillery upon me. • Mr. Bickerstaff, you remember you
followed me one night from the play-house ; suppose you should carry me thither to-morrow night, and lead me into the front-box. This put us into a long field of discourse about the beauties, who were mothers to the present, and shined in the boxes twenty years ago. I told her, ‘I was glad she had transferred so many of her charms, and I did not question but her eldest daughter was within half a year of being a Toast.'
We were pleasing ourselves with this fantastical preferment of the young lady, when on a sudden we were alarmed with the noise of a drum, and immediately entered my little godson to give me a point of war. * His mother, between laughing and chiding, would have put him out of the room ; but I would not part with him so. I found, upon conversation with him, though he was a little noisy in his mirth, that the child had excellent parts, and was a great master of all the learning on the other side eight years old. I perceived him a very great historian in Æsop's Fables: but he frankly declared to me his mind, that he did not delight in that
* See TATLER, No. 114; aged 15, here only 8.
learning, because he did not believe they were true;' for which reason I found he had very much turned his studies, for about a twelvemonth past, into the lives and adventures of Don Bellianis of Greece, Guy of Warwick, the Seven Champions, and other historians of that age. I could not but observe the satisfaction the father took in the forwardness of his son; and that these diversions might turn to some profit, I found the boy had made remarks, which might be of service to him during the course of his whole life. He would tell you the mismanagements of John Hickathrift, find fault with the passionate temper in Bevis of Southampton, and loved Saint George for being the champion of England; and by this means had his thoughts insensibly moulded into the notions of discretion, virtue, and honour. I was extolling his accomplishments, when the mother told me, that the little girl who led me in this morning was in her way a better scholar than he. Betty,' says she, deals chiefly in fairies and sprights; and sometimes in a winter-night will terrify the maids with her accounts, till they are afraid to go up to bed.
I sat with them till it was very late, sometimes in merry, sometimes in serious discourse, with this particular pleasure, which gives the only true relish to all conversation, a sense that every one of us liked each other. I went home, considering the different conditions of a married life and that of a bachelor; and I must confess it struck me with a secret concern, to reflect, that whenever I go off I shall leave no traces behind me. In this pensive mood I return to my family ; that is to say, to my maid, my dog, and my cat, who only can be the better or worse for what happens to me.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 1709.
Is mihi demum vivere et frui animâ videtur, qui, aliquo negotio intentus, præclari facinoris aut artis bonæ famam quærit.
SALL. BELL. CAT.
In my opinion, he only may be truly said to live, and enjoy his
being, who is engaged in some laudable pursuit, and acquires a name by some illustrious action, or useful art.
FROM MY OWN APARTMENT, NOVEMBER 17. It has cost me very much care and thought to marshal and fix the people under their proper denominations, and to range them according to their respective characters. These my endeavours have been received with unexpected success in one kind but neglected in another: for though I have many readers, I have but few converts. This must certainly proceed from a false opinion, that what I write is designed rather to amuse and entertain, than convince and instruct. I entered upon my Essays with a declaration that I should consider mankind in quite another manner than they had hitherto been represented to the ordinary world ; and asserted, that none but a useful life should be, with me, any life at all. But, lest this doctrine should have made this small progress towards the conviction of mankind, because it may appear to the unlearned light and whimsical, I must take leave to unfold the wisdom and antiquity of my first proposition in these my Essays, to wit, that every worthless man is a dead man. This notion is as old as Pythagoras, in whose school it was a point of disci
pline, that if among the 'A KOVOTIKOT, or probationers, there were any who grew weary of studying to be useful, and returned to an idle life, the rest were to regard them as dead: and, upon their departing, to perform their obsequies, and raise them tombs, with inscriptions to warn others of the like mortality, and quicken them to resolutions of refining their souls above that wretched state. It is upon a like supposition, that young ladies, at this very time, in Roman Catholic countries, are received into some nunneries with their coffins, and with the pomp of a formal funeral, to signify, that henceforth they are to be of no further use, and consequently dead. Nor was Pythagoras himself the first author of this symbol, with whom, and with the Hebrews, it was generally received. Much more might be offered in illustration of this doctrine from sacred authority, which I recommend to my reader's own reflection ; who will easily recollect, from places which I do not think fit to quote here, the forcible manner of applying the words dead and living to men, as they are good or bad.
I have, therefore, composed the following scheme of existence for the benefit both of the living and the dead; though chiefly for the latter, whom I must desire to read it with all possible attention. In the number of the dead I comprehend all persons, of what title or dignity soever, who bestow most of their time in eating and drinking, to support that imaginary existence of theirs, which they call life; or in dressing and adorning those shadows and apparitions, which are looked upon by the vulgar as real men and women. In short, whoever resides in the world without having any business in it, and passes away an age without ever thinking on the errand for which he was sent hither, is to me a dead man
to all intents and purposes; and I desire that he may be so reputed. The living are only those that are some way or other laudably employed in the improvement of their own minds, or for the advantage of others; and even among these, I shall only reckon into their lives that part of their time which has been spent in the manner above mentioned. By these means, I am afraid we shall find the longest lives not to consist of many months, and the greatest part of the earth to be quite unpeopled. According to this system we may observe, that some men are born at twenty years of age, some at thirty, some at threescore, and some not above an hour before they die: nay, we may observe multitudes that die without ever being born, as well as many
persons that fill up the bulk of mankind, and make a better figure in the eyes of the ignorant, than those who are alive, and in their proper and full state of health. However, since there may be many good subjects, that
pay their taxes, and live peaceably in their habitations, who are not yet born, or have departed this life several years since, my design is, to encourage both to join themselves as soon as possible to the number of the living. For as I invite the former to break forth into being, and become good for something; so I allow the latter a state of resuscitation; which I chiefly mention for the sake of a person who has lately published an advertisement, with several scurrilous terms in it, that do by no means become a dead man to give : it is my
departed friend John Partridge, who concludes the advertisement of his next year's almanac, with the following note:
• Whereas it has been industriously given out by Bickerstaff, Esquire, and others, to prevent the