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THE EDITOR'S ADVERTISEMENT. matters. This consideration led us to think that a choice of the most
pleasing and instructive passages of THE SPECTATOR, in a single volume, would be so much the more agreeable to the public, and especially to such as learn the English language, as it would spare them the trouble of going through the voluminous collection of the whole, and yet give them a sufficient notion of that excellent work.
Non fumum ex fulgore, sed ex fumo dare lucem
HORAT. Ars poet., v. 143.
He does not lavish at a blaze his fire,
I HAVE observed that a reader seldom peruses a book with pleasure, until he knows whether the writer of it be a black or a fair
of a mild or choleric disposition, married or a batchelor, with other particulars of the like nature, that conduce very much to the right understanding of an author. To gratify this curiosity, which is so natural to a reader, I design this paper, as a prefatory dis
course to my following writings. As the chief trouble of compiling, digesting, and correcting, will fall to my 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 same hedges and ditches in William the Conqueror's time, that it is at present, and has been delivered down from father to son whole and entire, without the loss or acquisition of a single field or meadow, during the space of six hundred years. There runs a story in the family, that when my mother was gone with child of me about three months, she dreamed that she was brought to bed of a judge whether this might proceed from a law suit, which was then 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 sucked, 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 sullen youth, but was always a favourite of my schoolmaster, who used “ to say, that my parts were solid, and would wear well. I had not been long at the University, before I distinguished myself by a most profound silence; for, during the space of eight years, excepting in the public exercises of the College, I scarce uttered the quantity of an hundred words; and indeed do not remember that I ever spoke three sentences 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 am not acquainted with.
Upon the death of my father, I was resolved to travel into foreign countries, and therefore left the University, with the character of an odd unaccountable fellow, that had a great deal of learning, if I would but shew 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 such 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 soon as I had set myselflight in that particular, returned to my native country with great satisfaction.
I have passed my latter years in this city, where I am frequently seen in most public places, though there are not above half a dozen of my select friends that know me. There is no place of general resort, wherein I do not often make my appearance; sometimes 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 whilst I seem attentive to nothing but the Postman, over-hear the conversation of every table in the room. I appear on Sunday nights at St. James's coffeehouse, and sometimes join the little committee of politics in the inner room, as one who comes there to hear and improve. My face is likewise 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