« AnteriorContinuar »
to the fire." This was one of the jocular sayings of our forefathers, but may be properly used in the literal sense at present. Who would not wonder at this perverted relish of those who are reckoned the most polite part of mankind, that prefer sea coals and candles to the sun, and exchange so many cheerful morning hours, for the pleasures of midnight revels and debauches? If a man was only to consult his health, he would choose to live his whole time, if possible, in day-light; and to retire out of the world into silence aod sleep, while the raw damps and unwholesome vapours fly abroad, without a sun to disperse, moderate, or controul them, For my own part, I value an hour in the morning as much as common libertines do an hour at midnight. When ( find myself awakened into being, and perceive my life renewed within me, and at the same time see the whole face of nature recovered out of the dark uncomfortable state in which it lay for several hours, my heart overflows with such secret sentiments of joy and gratitude, as are a kind of implicit praise to the great Author of Nature. The mind, in these early seasons of the day, is so refreshed in all its faculties, and borne up with such new supplies of animal spirits, that she finds herself in a state of youth, especially when she is entertained with the breath of flowers, the melody of birds, the dews that hang upon the plants, and all those other sweets of nature that are peculiar to the morning.
It is impossible for a man to have this relish of being, this exquisite taste of life, who does not come into the world before it is in all its noise and hurry; who loses the rising of the sun, the still hours of the day, and, immediately upon his first getting up, plunges himself into the ordinary cares or follies of the world.
I shall conclude this Paper with Milton's inimitable description of Adam's awakening his Eve in Paradise, which indeed would have been a place as little delightful as a barren heath or desert to those who slept in it. The fondness of the posture in which Adam is represented, and the softness of his whisper, are passages in this divine poem that are above all commendation, and rather to be admired than praised.
Now Morn her rosy steps in th' eastern clime
Such whispering wak'd her, but with startled eye
O sole! in whom my thoughts find all repose,
MILTON's Par. Lost, b. v. I. 1, &c.
N° 264. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 16, 1710.
HOR. 1 Od. iii. 2.
Favour your tongues.
From my own Apartment, December 15. BOCCALINI, in his “ Parnassus," indicts a laconic writer for speaking that in three words which he might have said in two, and sentences him for his punishment to read over all the works of Guicci. ardini. This Guicciardini is so very prolix and circumstantial in his writings, that I remember our countryman, doctor Donne, speaking of that majestic and concise manner in which Moses has described the creation of the world, adds, “ that if such an author as Guicciardini were to have written on such a subject, the world itself would not have been able to have contained the books that gave
the history of its creation.”
I look upon a tedious talker, or what is generally known by the name of a story-teller, to be much more insufferable than even a prolix writer. An author may be tossed out of your hand, and thrown aside whon he grows dull and tiresome; but such liberties are so far from being allowed towards yonr orators in common conversation, that I have known a challenge sent a person for going out of the room abruptly, and leaving a man of honour in the midst of a dissertation. This evil is at present so very common and epidemical that there is scarce a coffee-house in town that has not soon speakers belonging to it, who utter their political essays, and
draw parallels out of Baker's Chronicle" to almost every part of her Majesty's reigo. It was said of two antient authors, who had very different beauties in their style, “ that if you took a word from one of them, you only spoiled his eloquence: but if you took a word from the other, you spoiled his sense.” I have often applied the first part of this criticism to several of these coffee-house speak. ers whom I have at present in my thoughts, though the character that is given to the last of those au. thors, is what I would recommend to the imitation of my loving countrymen. But it is ňot only public places of resort, but private clubs and conver. sations over a bottle, that are infested with this los quacious kind of animal, especially with that species which I comprehend under the name of a story. teller, I would earnestly desire these gentlemen to consider, that no point of wit or mirth at the end of a story can atone for the half hour that has been lost before they come at it. I would likewise lay it home to their serious consideration, whether they think that every man in the company has not à right to speak as well as themselves and whether they do not think they are invading another man's property, when they engross the time which should be divided equally among the company to their own private use?
What makes this evil the much greater in conversation is, that these humdrum companions sel. dom endeavour to wind up their narrations into a point of mirth or instruction, which might make some amends for the tediousness of them ; but think they have a right to tell any thing that has hap. pened within their memory. They look upon matter of fact to be a sufficient foundation for å story, and give us a long account of things, not because they are entertaining or surprizing, but because they are true.
My ingenious kinsman, Mr. Humphry Wagstatt, used to say,
" the life of a man is too short for a story-teller."
Methusalem might be half-an-hour in telling what o'clock it was: but as for us posi-diluvians, we ought to do every thing in haste; and in our speeches, as well as actions, remember that our time is short. A man that talks for a quarter of an hour together in company, if I meet him frequently, takes up a great part of my span. A quarter of an hour may be reckoned the eight-and-fortieth part of a day, a day the three hundred and sixtieth part of a year, and a year the threescore and tenth part of life. By this moral arithmetic, supposing a man to be in the talking world one third part of the day, whoever gives another a quarter of an hour's hearing, makes him a sacrifice of more than the four hundred thousandth part of his conversable life.
I would establish but one great general rule to be observed in all conversation, which is this, " that men should not talk to please themselves, but those that hear them.” This would make them consider, whether what they speak be worth hearing; whether there be either wit or sense in what they are about to say; and, whether it be adapted to the time when, the place where, and the person to whom, it is spoken.
For the utter extirpation of these orators and story-tellers, which I look upon as very great pests of society, I have invented a watch which divides the minute into twelve parts, after the same manner that the ordinary watches are divided into hours: and will endeavour to get a patent, which shall oblige every club or company to provide themselves with one of these watches, that shall lie upon the