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No 1. THURSDAY, MARCH 1, 1710-11.
Non fumum ex fulgore, fed ex fumo dare lucem
One with a flash begins, and ends in finoke;
HAVE obferved, that a Reader feldom peruses a book with pleasure, until he knows whether the writer of it be a black or a fair man, of a mild or choleric difpofition, married or a bachelor, with other particulars of the like nature, that conduce very much to the right understanding of an author. To gratify this curiofity, which is fo natural to a reader, I defign this paper and my next as prefatory difcourfes to my following writings, and fhall give fome account in them of the feveral perfons that are engaged in this work. As the chief VOL. I. + A trouble
trouble of compiling, digefting, and correcting will fall to my fhare, I muft do myself the juftice to open the work with my own hiftory.
I was born to a fmail hereditary eftate, which, according to the tradition of the village where it lics, was bounded by the fame hedges and ditches in William the Conqueror's time that it is at prefent, and has been delivered down from father to fon whole and entire, without the lofs or acquifition of a fingle field or meadow, during the fpace of fix hundred ycars. There runs a ftory in the family, that when my mother was gone with child of me about three months, fhe dreamt that she was brought to bed of a Judge: Whether this might proceed from a law-fuit which was then depending in the family, or my father's being a juftice of the peace, I cannot determine; for I am not fo vain as to think it prefaged any dignity that I fhould arrive at in my future life, though that was the interpretation which the neighbourhood put upon it. The gravity of my behaviour at my very first appearance in the world, and all the time that I fucked, feemed to favour my mother's dream: For, as he has often told me, I threw away my rattle before I was two months old, and would not make ufe of my coral until they had taken away the bells from it.
As for the rest of my infancy, there being nothing in it remarkable, I fhall pass it over in filence. I find, that, during my nonage, I had the reputation of a very fullen youth, but was always a favourite of my schoolmafter, who used to fay, that my parts I had not been were folid, and would wear well. long at the univerfity, before I diftinguished myself by a most profound filence; for during the space of eight years, excepting in the public exercifes of the college, I fcarce uttered the quantity of an hundred words; and indeed do not remember that I ever fpoke three fentences together in my whole life. Whilft I was in this learned body, I applied myfelf
self with so much diligence to my ftudies, that there are very few celebrated books, either in the learned or the modern tongues, which I am not acquainted with.
Upon the death of my father, I was refolved to travel into foreign countries, and therefore left the univerfity, with the character of an odd unaccountable fellow, that had a great deal of learning, if I would but fhew it. An insatiable thirst after knowledge carried me into all the countries of Europe, in which there was any thing new or ftrange to be feen; nay, to fuch a degree was my curiofity raifed, that having read the controverfies of fome great men concerning the antiquities of Egypt, I made a voyage to Grand Cairo, on purpofe to take the meafure of a pyramid: And, as foon as I had fet myself right in that particular, returned to my native country with great fatisfaction.
I have paffed my latter years in this city, where I am frequently feen in moft public places, though there are not above half a dozen of my felect friends that know me; of whom my next paper fhall give a more particular account. There is no place of general refort, wherein I do not often make my appearance; fometimes I am feen thrufting my head into a round of politicians at Will's, and liftening with great attention to the narratives that are made in thofe little circular audiences. Sometimes I finoke a pipe at Child's, and, whilft I seem attentive to nothing but the Poftman, overhear the converfation of every table in the room. I appear on Sunday nights at St. James's coffee-houfe, and fometimes join the little committee of politics in the inner-room, as one who comes there to hear and improve. My face is likewife very well known at the Grecian, the Cocoa-Tree, and in the theatres both of Drury-Lane and the Hay-Market. I have been taken for a merchant upon the Exchange for above these ten years, and fometimes pafs for a few in the affembly of ftock
ftock-jobbers at Jonathan's: In fhort, wherever i fee a cluster of people, I always mix with them, though I never open my lips but in my own club.
Thus I live in the world rather as a fpectator of mankind, than as one of the fpecies, by which means I have made myfelf a fpeculative ftatesman, foldier, merchant, and artifan, without ever medling with any practical part in life. I am very well verfed in the theory of a husband or a father, and can difcern the errors in the œconomy, bufinefs, and diverfion of others, better than those who are engaged in them; as ftanders-by discover blots, which are apt to escape those who are in the game. I never espoused any party with violence, and am refolved to obferve an exact neutrality between the Whigs and Tories, unless I fhall be forced to declare myself by the hoftilities of either fide. In fhort, I have acted in all the parts of my life as a looker-on, which is the character I intend to preferve in this paper.
I have given the Reader just so much of my hiftory and character, as to let him fee I am not altogether unqualified for the business I have undertaken. As for other particulars in my life and adventures, I fhall infert them in following papers, as I fhall fee occafion. In the mean time, when I confider how much I have feen, read, and heard, I begin to blame my own taciturnity; and, fince I have neither time nor inclination to communicate
the fulness of my heart in fpeech, I am refolved to do it in writing, and to print myself out, if poffible, before I die. I have been often told by my friends, that it is pity fo many useful difcoveries which I have made thould be in the poffeffion of a filent man. For this reafon, therefore, I fhall publish a sheet-full of thoughts every morning, for the bencfit of my contemporaries; and if I can any way contribute to the diverfion or improvement of the country in which I live, I shall leave it, when I am fummoned