Imágenes de páginas

longing to it, who etter 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 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 speakers whom I have at present in my thoughts, though the character that is given to the last of those authors, is what I would recommend to the imitation of my loving countrymen. But it is not only pablic places of resort, but private clubs and conversations over a bottle, that are intested with this loquacious kind of animal, especially with that species which I comprehend under the name of a storyteller. I would earnestly desire these gentlemen to consider, that no point of wit or mirtli 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 among 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 surprizing, but because they are true.

My ingenious kinsman, Mr. Humphry Wagstaff, used 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 post-diluviaus, 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,

ther 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


paid Mrs. Hambeau a visit upon her first coming to town. It was urged in the behalf of the defendant, that the plaintift had never given her any regular notice of her being in town; that the visit she alleged had been made on Monday, which she knew was a day on which Mrs. Flambeau was always abroad, having set aside that only day in the week to mind the affairs of her family : that the servant, who inquired whether she was at home, did not give the visiting-knock : that it was not between the hours of five and eight in the evening: that there were no candles lighted up: that it was not on Mrs. Flambeau's day : and, in short, that there was not one of the essential points observed that constitute a visit. She further proved by her porter's book, which was produced in court, that she had paid the lady Townly a visit on the twentyfourth day of March, just before her leaving the town, in the year seventeen hundred and nine-ten *, for which she was still creditor to the said lady. Townly. To this the plaintiff only replied, that she was now under covert, and not liable to any debts contracted when she was a single woman. Mr. Bickerstaff finding the cause to be very intricate, and that several points of honour were likely to arisc in it, he deferred giving judgment upon it until the next session day, at which time he ordered the ladies on his left-hand to present to the court a table of all the laws relating to visits,

Winifred Leer brought ber action against Richard Sly for having broken a marriage-contract, and wedded another woman, after he had engaged him.

Not nineteen, but on the very last day of 1709-10. It was a nice point, for, according to the manner of reckoning at that time, the year 1910 began on the day following, that is, an the 2 gula of March.

self to marry the said Winifred Leer. She alleged » that he had ogled her twice at the opera, thrice in St. James's church, and once at Powel's puppet" show, at which time he promised her marriage by a side-glance, as her friend could testify that sat by her. Mr. Bickerstaff finding that the defendant had made no further overture of love or marriage, but by looks and ocular engagement; yet at the same time considering how very apt such impudent seducers are to lead the ladies hearts astray, ordered the criminal « to stand upon the stage in the Hay-market, between each act of the next opera, there to be exposed to public view as a false ogler."

Upon the rising of the court, Mr. Bickerstaff having taken one of these counterfeits in the very fact, as he was ogling a lady of the grand jury, ar. dered him to be seized, and prosecuted upon the statute of ogling. He likewise directed the clerk of the court to draw up an edict against these common cheats, that make women believe ihey are distracted for them, by staring them out of countenance, and often blast a lady's reputation, whcm they never spoke to, by saucy looks and distint familiarities,

N°263. THURSDAY, DECEMBER 14, 1710.

Minima contentos nocte Britannos. JUV. Sat. II. 161.
Britons contented with the shortest night.

From my own Apartment, Decenler 13. An old friend of mine being lately come to town, I went to see him on Tuesday last about eight o'clock in the evening, with a design to sit with him an hour or two, and talk over old stories; but, upon inquiry after him, I found he was gone to-bed. The next morning, as soon as I was up and dressed, and had dispatched a little business, I came again to my friend's house about eleven o'clock, with a design to renew my visit: but, upon asking for hini, his servant told me he was just sat down to dinner. In short, I found that my old fashioned friend religiously adhered to the example of his forefathers, and observed the same hours that had been kept in the family ever since the Conquest..

It is very plain, that the night was much longer formerly in this island than it is at present. By the night, I mean that portion of time which nature has thrown into darkness, and which the wisdom of mankind had formerly dedicated to rest and silence. This used to begin at eight o'clock in the evening, and conclude at six in the morning. The curfeu, or eight o'clock bell, was the signal throughout he nation for putting out their candles and going to-bed.

« AnteriorContinuar »