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| And further, because I am very desirous that proper ways and means should be found out for the suppressing of story tellers, and fine talkers, in all ordinary conversation whatsoever, I do in sist, that in every private club, company, or meeting over a bottle, there be always an elbow chair placed at the table, and that, as soon as any one begins a long story, or extends his discourse bes yond the space of one minute, he be forthwith thrust into the said elbow chair, unless upon any of the company's calling out to the chair, he breaks off abruptly, and holds his tongue.
There are two species of men, notwithstanding any thing that has been here said, whom I would exempt from the disgrace of the elbow chair. The first are those buffoons that have a talent of mimicking the speech and behaviour of other persons, and turning all their patrons, friends, and acquaintance, intc ridicule.
I look upon your pantomime as a legion in a man, or at least to be like Virgil's monster, with an hundred mouths, and as many tongues,
Linguc centum sunt, oraque centum;
and therefore would give him as much time to
turn by a person who puts his mouth to a better employment, and stops it with good beef and mutton. In this case the guest is very agreeably silenced, and seems to hold his tongue under that kind of bribery which the ancients called Bos in lingua...
if I can once extirpate the race of solid and substantial humdrums, I hope, by my wholesome and repeated advices, quickly to reduce the insignificant tittle-tattles, and matter-of-fact-men, that abound in every quarter of this great city.
Epictetus, in his little system of morality, prescribes the following rule with that beautiful simplicity which shines through all his precepts : * Beware that thou never tell thy dreams in com. pany; for, notwithstanding thou mayest take a pleasure in telling thy dreams, the company will take no pleasure in hearing them.”
This rule is conformable to a maxim which I have laid down in a late paper, and must always inculcate into those of my readers, who find in themselves an inclination to be very talkative and impertinent, that they should not speak to please themselves, but those that hear them.
It has been often observed by witty essay writers, that the deepest waters are always the most silent; that empty vessels make the greatest sound, and tinkling cymbals the worst music. The Marquis of Halifax, in his admirable advice to a daughter, tells her, that good sense has always something sullen in it: but as sullenness does not only imply silence, but an ill-natured silence, I wish his Lordship had given a softer name to it. Since I am engaged unawares in quotations, I must not omit the satyr which Horace has written against this impertinent talkative companion, and which, I think, is fuller of humour than any other satyr he has written. This great author, who had the nicest taste of conversation, and was himself a most agreeable companion, had so strong an antipathy to a great talker, that he was afraid some time or other, it would be mortal to him, as he has very humorously described it in his conversation with an impertinent fellow who had like to have been the death of him.
Interpellandi locus hic erat : Est tibi mater,
Thus translated by Mr. OLDHAM:
Here I got room to interrupt: Have you
die by an eternal tongue:
NO. 269. THURSDAY, DECEMBER 28, 1710.
Hæ nugæ seria ducunt
From my own Apartment, December 27. I FIND my correspondents are universally of. fended at me for taking notice so seldom of their letters, and fear people have taken the advantage of my silence to go on in their errors; for which reason I shall hereafter be more careful to answer all lawful questions, and just complaints, as soon as they come to my hands. The two following epistles relate to very great mischiefs in the most important articles of life, love and friendship.
“ Dorsetshire, Dec. 20. " MR. BICKERSTAFFE, “It is my misfortune to be enamoured of a lady that is neither very beautiful, very witty, nor at all well-natured; but has the vanity to think she excels in all these qualifications, and therefore is cruel, insolent, and scornful. When I study to please her, she treats me with the utmost rudeness and ill-manners: if I approach her person, she fights, she scratches me : if I offer a civil salute, she bites me; insomuch, that very lately, before a whole assembly of ladies and gentlemen, she ripped out a considerable part of my left-cheek. This is no sooner done, but she begs my pardon in the most handsome and becoming terms imaginable, gives herself worse language than I could find in my heart to do, lets me embrace her, to pacify her while she is railing at herself, protests she deserves the esteem of no one living, says I VOL. III
am too good to contradict her when she thus accuses herself. This atones for all, tempts me to renew my
my addresses, which are ever returned in the same obliging manner. ' Thus, without some speedy relief, I am in danger of losing my whole face. Notwithstanding all this, I dote upon her, and am satisfied she loves me, because she takes me for a man of sense, which I have been generally thought, except in this one instance. . Your reflections upon this strange amour would be very useful in these parts, where we are over-run with wild beauties and romps. I earnestly beg your assistance, either to deliver me from the power of this unaccountable inchantment, or, by some proper animadversions, civilize the behaviour of this agreeable rustic. I am,
r Your most humble servant,
“ EBENEZER. « MR. BICKERSTAFFE, “ I now take leave to address you in your cha- , racter of censor, and complain to you, that, among the various errors in conversation which
have corrected, there is one which, though it has not escaped a general reproof, yet seems to deseryè a more particular severity. It is an humour of jesting on disagreeable subjects, and insisting on the jest the more it creates uneasiness; and this some men think they have a title to do as friends. Is the design of jesting to provoke? Or does friendship give a privilege to say things with a design to shock? How can that be called a jest, which has nothing in it but bitterness ? It is generally allowed necessary, for the peace of company, that men should a little study the tempers of each other ; but certainly that must be in order to shun what is offensive, not to make it a constant entertainment. The frequent repetition of what appears harsh, will unavoidably leave a rancour that is fa