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thou hast been always near me, O Lord! and ever as my worldly blessings were exalted, so secret darts from thee have pierced me; and when I have ascended before men, I have descended in humiliation before thee. And now, when I thought most of peace and honour, thy hand is heavy upon me, and bath humbled me according to thy former loving-kindoess, keeping me still in thy fatherly school, not as a bastard, but as a child. Just are thy judgments upon me for my sins, which are more in number than the sands of the sea, but have no proportion to thy mercies; for what are the sands of the sea : Earth, heavens, and all these, are nothing to thy mercies. Besides my innumerable sins, I contess before thce, that I am debtor to Thee for the gracious talent of thy gifts and graces, which I have neither put into a napkin, nor put it, as I ought, to exchangers, where it might have made best profit, but misspent it in things for which I was least fit; so I may truly say, my soul hath been a stranger in the course of my pilgrimage. Be merciful unto me, O Lord, for ny Saviour's sake, and receive me unto thy bosom, or guide me in thy
N°268. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 26, 1710.
O te, Bolane, cerebri
HOR. 1 Sat. IX. II.
From my own Apartment, December 25. At my coming home last night, I found upon my table the following petition or project, sent me from Lloyd's coilee-house in the city, with a present of Port wine, which had been bought at a late auction held in that place. “ To Isaac BICKERSTAFF, Esquire, Censor of
GREAT BRITAIN. “ Lloyd's Coffee-house, Lomlard-street, Dec. 23. “ We the customers of this coffee-house, observing that you have taken into your consideration the great mischiets daily done in this city by coffeehouse orators, do humbly beg leave to represent to you, that this coffee-house being provided with a pulpit for the benefit of such auctions that are frequently made in this place, it is our custom, upon the first coming in of the news, to order a youth, who otħciates as the Kidney of the coffee-house, to g«t into the pulpit, and read every paper with a loud and distinct voice, while the whole audience are sipping their respective liquors. We do thero.
fore, Sir, humbly propose, that there be a pulpit etected within every coffee-house of this city and the adjacent parts ; that one of the waiters of the cutfee-house be nominated as reader to the said pulpit; that after the news of the day has been publisted by the said lecturer, some politician of good note do ascend into the said pulpit; and, after having chosen for his text any article of the said news, that he do establish the authority of such article, clear the doubts that may arise thereupon, compare it with parallel texts in other papers, advance upon it wholesome points of doctrine, and draw from it salutary conclusions for the benefit and edification of all that hear him. We do likewise humbly propose, that, upon any such politician's quitting the pulpit, he shall be succeeded by any other orator that finds himself moved by the same public spirit, who shall be at full liberty either to enforce or overthrow what the other has said before him, and may, in the same manner, be succeeded by any other politician, who shall, with the same liberty, confirm or impugn his reasons, strengthen or invalidate his conjectures, enlarge upon his schemes, or erect new ones of his own. We do likewise further propose, that if any person, of what age and rank soever, do presume to cavil at any Paper that has been read, or to hold forth upon it longer than the space of one minute, that he be immediately ordered up into the pulpit, there to make good any thing that he has suggested upon the floor, We do likewise further propose, that if any one plays the orator in the ordinary coffee-house conversation, whether it be upon peace or war, on play# or sermons, business or poetry, that he be forth with desired to take his place in the pulpit. Thin, Sir, we humbly presume, may in a great measure, put a stop to those superficial statesmen, who would not dare to stand up in this manner before a whole congregation of politicians, notwithstanding the long and tedious harangues and dissertations which they daily utter in private circles, to the breaking of many honest tradesmen, the seducing of several eminent citizens, the making of numberless malcontents, and to the great detriment and disquiet of her majesty's subjects."
I do heartily concur with my ingenious friends of the abovementioned coffee-house in these their proposals : and because I apprehend there may be reasons to put an immediate stop to the grievance complained of, it is my intention, that, until such time as the aforesaid pulpits can be erected, every orator do place himself within the bar, and from thence dictate whatsoever he shall think necessary for the public good.
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 or. dinary conversations whatsoever, I do insist, 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 beyond the
of one minute, he be forth with 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 mi. micking the speech and behaviour of other persons, and turning all their patrons, friends, and acquainia ance, into 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
Legue centum sunt, oraque centums and, therefore, would give him as much time to tack in, as would be allowed to the whole body of persos he represents, were they actually in the company which they divert by proxy. Provided, huwever, that the said Pantomime do not, upon any pretence u hatsoever, utter any thing in his own particular opinion, language, or character.
I would likewise, in the second place, grant an exemp!an from the elbow-chair to any persou who treats the corr.pany, and by that means may be supposed to pay for his audience. A guest cannot take it ill, if he be not allowed to talk in bis 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 antients called tos 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-tatties, 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 company ; for, notwithstanding thou mayest take a pleasure in telling thy dreams, the company will take no pleasure in hearing them,"
* An allrasion to the image of a bull, ax, or ww, stamped yron the money then, and there in curichi use, whence than Cola was calles bos.