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Non fumum ex fulgore, fed ex fumo dare lucem
HOR. Ars Poet, vek, 1430
One with a flash begins, and ends in smoke;
ROSCOMMON HAVE observed, that a reader feldom peruses ar book with pleasure, till he knows whether the writer
of it be a black or a fair man, of a inild or choleo ric disposition,, married or a bachelor'; with other pare ticulars of the like nature, that conduce very much to the right understanding of an author. To gratify this curiofity, which is so natural to a readers I design this paper and my next as prefatory discourses to my following writings, and shall give some account in them of the several per: fons that are engaged in this work. As the chief trouble: of compiling, digesting, and correcting, will tall to niy
share, I must do myself the justice to open the work with my own history.
I was born to a small hereditary estate, which, according to the tradition of the village where it lies, was bounded by the fame hedges and ditches in William the Conqueror's time that it is at present, and has been delivered down from father to fon whole and entire, without the loss or acquisition of a single field or meadow, during the space of fix hundred years. There runs a story in the family, that when my mother was gone with child of me about three months, she dreaint that she was brought-to-bed of a Judge: Whether this might proceed from a law-suit which was thén depending in the family, or my father's being a justice of the peace, I cannot determine; for I am not so vain as to think it presaged any dignity that I should 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, seemed to favour my mother's dream; for, as she has often, told me, I threw away my rattle before I was two months old, and would not make use 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 shall pass it over in silence. I find, that, during my nonage, I had the reputation of a very fullen youth ; but was always a favourite of my schoolmaster, who used to fay; " that my parts were folid, and would “wear well.” I had not been long at the university, before I distinguished myself by a most profound filence; for during the space of eight years, excepting in the publick exercises of the college, I scarce uttered the quantity of an hundred words; and, indeed, do not remember that I ever spoke three fentences together in my whole life. Whilst I was in this learned body, I applied myself with so much diligence to my studies, that there are very few celebrated books, either in the learned or the modern tongues, which I ain not acquainted with.
Upon the death of my father, I was resolved to travel into foreign countries; and therefore left the univorfity, with the character of an odd, unaccountable fel
low, 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 strange to be seen; nay, to fuch a degree was my curiosity raised, that having read the controversies' of some great men concerning the antiquities of Egypt, I made a voyage to Grand Cairo, on purpose to take the measure of a pyramid; and as foon as I had set myself right in that particular, returned to my native country with great satisfaction.
I have passed my latter years in this city, where I frequently seen in most public places, though there are not above half a dozen of my select friends that know me; of whom iny next paper shall give a more particular account. There is no place of general resort, wherein I do not often make my appearance; fometimes I am seen thrusting my head into a round of politicians at Will's, and listening with great attention to the narratives that are made in those little circular audiences. Sometimes I smoke a pipe at Child's, and, whilft I seem attentive to nothing but the Poltınan, overhear the conversation of
I appear on Sunday nights at St. James's coffee-house; and sometimes join the little committee of politicks in the inner rooni, as one who comes there to hear and improve. My face is likewise very well known at the Grecian, the CocoaTree, 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 sometimes país for a Jew in the assembly of stock.jobbers at Jonathan's. In short, wherever I fee a cluster ce people, I alivays mix with them, though I never open my lips but in my own club.
Thus I live in the world rather as a spectator of mankind, than as one of the species ; by which means I have made myself a speculative flatefinan, foldier, merchant, and artisan, without ever meddling with any practical part in life. I am very well versed in the theory of a husband or a father; and can discern the errors in the ceconomy, business, and diverfion of others, better than those who are engaged in them ; as ftanders-by discover blots, which are apt to efcapa A6