Obrázky na stránke

longing to it, who under 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 ditfcrent. beauties in their style, " that if you took a word from one of them, you only spoiled his cloqucnce ; but if you took a word from ihe other, you spoiled bis sense." I have often applied the first part of this criticisin to several of these coffee-bouse speakcrs 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 countryinen.

But it is not only poblic places of resort, but private clubs and conversations over a bottle, that are infested with this loquacious kind of animal, especially with that specics which I comprehend under the name of a storyteller. I would carnestly desire these gentlemen to consider, that no point of wit or mirth at the end of a story can atone for the balf hour that has been lost before they come at it. I would likewise lay it home to their serious consideration, whether ihey 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 properiy, 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 bumdrum companiony seldom cudeavour to wind up their narrations into point of birth or instruction, which might make some aiends 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, 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 VOL. V.,


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 pow in use. I would likewise earnestly recomnend this little automaton, which may be easily carried in the pocket without any incumbrance, to all such as are iroubled 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 im. proper 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 shew at large in a following Lucubration; it being my design to throw away a candle 1pon that subject, in order to explain the whole art of tattling in all its branches and subdivisions.

N° 265. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 19, 1710.

Arbiter bic igitur factes de lite jocosa.

OVID. Met. III. 331.
Him therefore they create.
The sov'i eign umpire of their droll debate.


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 business 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 1. tural antipathy to a stick; and that every touch chat, with an th ng made in the fashion of a cane, Wits to be interprtit d as a wound in that part, and a Whatron of the person's honour who received it. Jadrules replied, that what he had done was out or hindrras 10 the prosecutor, as not thinking it pops for him to appear at the bead of the trainedLands with a rather upon his shoulder;" and furthor added, that the stick he had made use of on this otsion was so very small, that the

prosecutor could not have trit it had he broken it on bis shoulders," The Censor bercupon 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 10 them the different degrees of ottenee that might be given by the touch of crabtree 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 statt, declared their opinion by the mouth of their foreman, " that the substance of the statt 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. Fleedless 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 statt 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 looked upon it thrice, while the said csquire Tattle was giving him an account of the

« PredošláPokračovať »