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are entertaining or surprizing, but because they are true.
My ingenious kinsman, Mr. Humphry Wagstati, 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, 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
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 turned of threescore, he may take two, or, if he pleases, three rounds of the watch, without giving orience. Provided also, that this rule be 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 recomniend this little automaton, which may be easily carried in the pocket without any incumbrance, to all such as are troubled with this infirmity of speech, that upon pulling out their watches, they may have frequent occasion to consider what they are doing, and by that means cut the thread of the story short, and hurry to a conclusion. I shall only add, that this watch, with a paper of 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 taille and loquacity, as I shall shew 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 lailling in all its branches and subdivisions.
No 265. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 19, 1710.
Arbiter bic igitur factus de lite jocosa,
OVID. Met. III. 331.
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 visitingdays, methodically digested under their respective heads, which the Censor ordered to be laid upon the table, and afterwards proceeded upon the busia ness of the day.
Henry Heedless, esquire, 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 until a few days after the aforesaid blow was given him; but that having ruminated with himself for several days, and conferred upon it with other officers of the militia, he concluded, that he had in effect been cudgelled by Mr. Heedless, and that he ought to resent it accordingly. The counsel for the prosecutor alleged, that the shoulder was the tenderest part in a man of honour ; that it had a
natural antipathy to a stick; and that every touch of it, with any ihing made in the fashion of a cape, was to be interpreted as a wound in that part, and a violation of the person's honour who received it. Mr. Heedless replied, “ that what be bad done was out of hindness to the prosecutor, as not thinking it proper for him to appear at the head of the trained. bands with a feather upon his shoulder;" and further added, " that the stick he had made use of on this occasion was so very small, that the prosecutor could not have felt it had he broken it on his shoulders." The Censor hereupon directed the jury to examine into the nature of the staft, for that a great deal would depend upon that particular. Upon which he explained to them the different degrees of offence that might be given by the touch of crab. tree from that of cane, and by the touch of cane from that of a plain hazle stick. The jury, after a short perusal of the staff, declared their opinion by the mouth of their foreman, “ that the substance of the staff was British oak" The Censor then observing that there was some dust on the skirts of the criminal's coat, ordered the prosecutor to beat it off with the aforesaid oaken plant; “ and thus," said the Censor, “ I shall decide this cause by the law of retaliation. If Mr. Heedless did the colonel a good office, the colonel will by this means return it in kind; but if Mr. Heedless should at any time boast that he had cudgelled the colonel, or laid his staff over his shoulders, the colonel might boast, in his turn, that he has brushed Mr. Heedless's jacket, or, to use the phrase of an ingenious author, that he has rubbed him down with an oaken towel."
Benjamin Busy, of London, merchant, was ins dicted by Jasper Tattle, esquire, for having pulled out his watch, and look«d upon it thrice, while the said esquire Tattle was giving him an account of the
funeral of the said esquire Tattle's first wife. The prisoner alleged in his defence, that he was going to buy stocks at the time when he met the prosecutor ; and that, during the story of the prosecutor, the said stocks rose above two per cent, to the great detriment of the prisoner. The prisoner further brought several witnesses to prove, that the said Jasper Tattle, esquire, was a most notorious story, teller ; that, before he met the prisoner, he had hindered one of the prisoner's acquaintance from the pursuit of his lawful business, with the account of his second marriage; and that he had detained another by the button of his coat, that very morning, until he had heard several witty sayings and contrivances of the prosecutor's eldest son, who was a boy of about five years of age. Upon the whole matter, Mr. Bickerstaff dismissed the accusation as frivolous, and sentenced the prosecutor “ to pay damages to the prisoner, for what the prisoner had lost by giving him so long and patient an hearing." He further reprimanded the prosecutor very severely, and told him, “ that if he proceeded in his usual manner to interrupt the business of mankind. he would set a fine upon him for every quarter of an hour's impertinence, and regulate the said fine ac. cording as the time of the person so injured should appear to be more or less precious."
Sir Paul Swash, knight, was indicted by Peter Double, gentleman, for not returning the bow which he received of the said Peter Double, on Wednesday the sixth instant, at the play-house in the Hay-niarket. The prisoner denied the receipt of any such bow, and alleged in his defence, that the prosecutor would oftentimes look full in his face, but that when he bowed to the said prosecutor, he would take no notice of it, or bow to somebody else that sat quite on the other side of