NUMB, 161, TUESDAY, Oktober 1, 175.1.

Oiή γας φύλλων γενέη, τόνηδε και "Αιδεων,


Frail as the leaves that quiver on the sprays,
Like them man flourishes, like them decays,



OU have formerly observed that euriosity often

termirates in barren knowledge, and that the mind is prompted to study and enquiry rather by the uneasiness of ignorance, than the hope of profit. Nothing can be of less importance to any present interest than the fortune of those who have been long lost in the grave, and from whom nothing now can be hoped or feared. Yet to rouse the zeal of a true antiquary, little more is necessary than to mention a name which mankind have conspired to forget; he will make his way to remote scenes of action through obscurity and contradiction, as Tully sought amidst bushes and brambles the tomb of Archingedes.

It is not easy to discover how it concerns him that gathers the produce, or receives the rent of an estate, to know through what fainilies the land has passed, who is registered in the Conqueror's survey as its possessor, how often it has been forfeited by treason, or how often sold by prodigality. The power or wealth of the present inhabitants of a country cannot be much increased by an enquiry


[ocr errors]

after the names of those barbarians, who destroyed one another twenty centuries ago, in contests for the shelter of woods or convenience of pasturage. Yet we see that no man can be at rest in the enjoyment of a new purchase till he has learned the history of his grounds from the ancient inhabitants of the parish, and that no nation omits to record the actions of their ancestors, however bloody, savage, and rapacious.

The same disposition, as different opportunities call it forth, discovers itself in great or little things. I have always thought it unworthy of a wise man to ņumber in total inactivity, only because he happens to have no employment equal to his ambition or genius; it is therefore my custom to apply my at, tention to the objects before me, and as I cannot think any place wholly unworthy of notice that affords a habitation to a man of letters, I have col. lected the history and antiquities of the several gara sets in which I have resided,

Quantulacunque estis, vos ego magna voca.
How small to others, but how great to me!

Many of these narratives my industry has been able to extend to a considerable length; but the woman with whom I now lodge has lived only eighteen months in the house, and can give no account of its ancient revolutions; the plaisterer having, at her entrance, obliterated, by his white-wash, all the smoky memorials which former tenants had left upon the ceiling, and perhaps drawn the veil of oblivion over politicians, philosophers, and poets.


When I first cheapened my lodgings, the landlady told me, that she hoped I was not an author, for the lodgers on the first floor had stipulated that the upper rooms should not be occupied by a noisy trade. I very-readily promised to give no disturbance to her family, and soon dispatched a bargain on the usual terms.

I had not slept many nights in my new apartment before I began to enquire after my predecessors, and found my landlady, whose imagination is filled chiefly with her own affairs, very ready to give me information.

Curiosity, like all other desires, produces pain as well as pleasure. Before she began her narrative, I had heated my head with expectations of adventures and discoveries, of elegance in disguise, and learna ing in distress; and was somewhat mortified when I heard that the first tenant was a tailor, of whom nothing was remembered but that he complained of his room for want of light; and, after having lodged in it a month, and paid only a week's rent, pawned a piece of cloth which he was trusted to 'cut out, and was forced to make a precipitate retreat from this quarter of the town.

The next was a young woman newly arrived from the country, who lived for five weeks with great regularity, and became by frequent treats very much the favourite of the family, but at last received visits so frequently from a cousin in Cheapfide, that she brought the reputation of the house into danger, and was therefore dismissed with good advice.



The room then stood empty for a fortnight; my landlady began to think that she had judged hardly, and often wished for such another lodger. At laft an elderly man of a grave aspect read the bill, and bargained for the room at the very first price that was asked. He lived in close retirement, feldom went out till evening, and then returned early, sometimes cheerful, and at other times dejected. It was remarkable, that whatever he purchased; he never had sınall money in his pocket, and though cool and temperate on other occasions, was always vehe. ment and stormy till he received his change. He paid his rent with great exactness, and seldom failed once a week to requite my landlady's civility with a supper. At last, such is the fate of human felicity, the house was alarmed at midnight by the constable, who demanded to search the garrets. My landlady assuring him that he had mistaken the door, conducted him up stairs, where he found the tools of a coiner; but the tenant had crawled along the roof to an empty house, and escaped s much to the joy of my landlady, who declares him a very honest man, and wonders why any body should be hanged for making money when such numbers are in want of it. She however confesses that she shall for the future always question the character of those who take her garret without beating down the price.

The bill was then placed again in the window, and the poor woman was teazed for seven weeks by innumerable passengers, who obliged her to climb with them every hour up five stories, and then difliked the prospect, hated the noise of a publick ftreet, thought the stairs narrow, objected to a low ceil


ing, required the walls to be hung with fresher paper, asked questions about the neighbourhood, could not think of living fo far from their acquaintance, wished the windows had looked to the fouth rather than the west, told how the door and chimney might have been better disposed, bid her half the price that she asked, or promised to give her earnest the next day, and came no more.

At last, a short meagre man, in a tarnished waistcoat, desired to see the garret, and when he had ftipulated for two long shelves, and a larger table, hired it at a low rate. Where the affair was completed, he looked round him with great satisfaction, and repeated some words which the woman did not understand. In two days he brought a great box of books, took possession of his room, and lived very inoffensively, except that he frequently disturbed the inhabitants of the next floor by unfeasonable noises. He was generally in bed at noon, but from evening to midnight he fometimes talked aloud with great vehemence, sometimes ftamped as in rage, fometimes threw down his poker, then clattered his chairs, then sat down in deep thought, and again burst out into loud vociferations; sometimes he would sigh as oppressed with misery, and sometimes shake with convulsive laughter. When he encountered any of the family, he gave way or bowed, but rarely spoke, except that as he went up stairs he often repeated,

--ος υπέρτατα δώματα νάιει,
This habitant th' aerial regions boaf,


« VorigeDoorgaan »