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As through unquiet rest: he on his side: 1.1. $
Such whispering wak'd her, but with startled eye
O sole! in whom my thoughts find all repose,
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 punisment, to read over all the works of Guicciardin. This Guicciardin is so very prolix and circumstantial in his writings, that I remember our countryman Dr. 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 Guicciardin 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, when he grows dull and tiresome; but such liberties are so far from being allowed towards your 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 some 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 reign. It was said of two ancient 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 speakers whom I have at present in my thoughts; though the character that is given to the last of the authors, is what I would recommend to the imitation of my loving countrymen. But it is not only public places of resort, but private clubs, and conversations over a bottle, that are infested with this loquacious 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 a 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 amongst the company, to their own private use?
,, What makes this evil the much greater in conversation is, that these humdrum companions seldom 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 happened within their memory. They look upon matter of fact to be a sufficient foundation for a story, and give us a long account of things, not because they are entertaining or surprising, but because they are true.
My ingenious kinsman, Mr. Humphrey Wagstaff, uses to say, “The life of 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 postdiluvians, 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 eightand-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 conversible life.
i 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 con
sider, whether what they speak be worth hearing; whether there be either witor 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 minutes 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 table as an hour-glass is often placed near the pulpit,) to measure out the length of a discourse.
I shall be willing to allow a man one round of my watch; that is, a whole minute to speak in; but if he exceeds that time, it shall be lawful for any
of the company to look upon the watch, or to call him down to order.
Provided, however, that if any one can make it appear he is túrned of threescore, he may take two, or, if he pleases, three rounds of the watch without giving offence. Provided also, that this rule bez not construed to extend to the fair sex, who shall still be'at liberty to talk by the ordinary watch that is now in use. I would likewise earnestly recom-3 mend this little automaton, which may be easily carried in tlie pocket without any incumbrance, to all such as are troubled with this infirmity of speech, that, upon pulling out their watches, theys may have frequent occasion to consider what they are doing, and by that means cut the thread of their story short, and hurry to a conclusion, il shall only add, that this watch, with a paper ofi directions how to use it, is sold at Charles Lillie's.
I am afraid, a Tatler will be thought a very improper paper to censure this humour of being talkative; but I would have my readers know, that there is a great difference between tattle and loquacity; as I shall show at large in a following lucubration, it being my design to throw away a candle upon that subject, in order to explain the whole art of tattling in all its branches and sub-divisions.
No. 265. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 19, 1710.
Arbiter hic igitur factus de lite jocosa.
Continuation of the Journal of the Court of
Honour, &c. As soon as the court was sat, the ladies of the bench presented, according to order, a table of all the laws now in force, relating to visits, and visiting-days, methodically digested under their respective heads, which the censor ordered to be laid upon the table, and afterwards proceeded upon the business of the day.
Henry Heedless, Esq. was indicted by Colonel Touchy, of her Majesty's trained-bands, upon an action of assault and battery : for that he, the said Mr. Heedless, having espied a feather upon the shoulder of the said colonel, struck it off gently with the end of a walking-staff, value three-pence. It appeared that the prosecutor did not think himself injured till a few days after the aforesaid blow was given him; but that having ruminated with him. self for several days, and conferred upon it with