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Pray be speedy in your answers, for I am in creat haste, and it is my tesires to do my pusiness without loss of time. I remain with cordial affections, your ever lofing friend,
• DAVYTH AP SHENKYN.
P. S. My law-suits have brought me to London, • but I have lost my causes ; and so have made my
resolutions to go down and leap before the frosts • pegin ; for I am apt to take colds.'
Ridicule, perhaps, is a better expedient against love than sober advice, and I am of opinion, that Hudibras and Don Quixote may be as effectual to cure the extravagancies of this passion, as any of the old philosophers. I shall therefore publish very speedily the translation of a little Greek manuscript, which is sent me by a learned friend. It appears to have been a piece of those records which were kept in the temple of Apollo, that stood upon the promontory of Leucate. The reader will find it to be a summary account of several persons who tried the Lover's Leap, and of the success they found in it. As there seem to be in it some anachronisms and deviations from the ancient orthography, I am not wholly satisfied myself that it is authentic, and not rather the production of one of those Grecian sophisters, who have imposed upon the world several spurious works of this nature. I speak this by way of precaution, because I know there are several writers, of uncommon erudition, who would pot fail to expose my ignorance, if they caught me tripping in a matter of so great moment.
THERE is a creature who has all the organs of speech, a tolerable good capacity for conceiving what is said to it, together with a pretty proper behaviour in all the occurrences of common life ; but naturally very vacant of thought in itself, and therefore forced to apply itself to foreign assistances. Of this make is that man who is very inquisitive. You may often ob"serve, that though he speaks as good sense as any man upon any thing with which he is well acquainted, he cannot trust to the range of his own fancy to entertain himself upon that foundation, but goes on still to new inquiries. Thus, though you know he is fit for the most polite conversation, you shall see him very well contented to sit by a jockey, giving an account of the many revolutions in his horse's health, what potion he made him take, how that agreed with him, how afterwards he came to his stomach and his exercise, or any the like impertinence; and be as well pleased as if you talked to him on the most important truths. This humour is far from inaking a man unhappy, though it may subject him to raillery; for he generally falls in with a person who seems to be born for him, which is yourtalkative fellow. It is so ordered, that there is a secret bent, as natural as the meeting of different sexes, in these two characters, to supply each other's wants. I had the honour the other day to sit in a public room, and saw an inquisitive man look with an air of satisfaction upon the approach of one of these talkers. The man of ready utterance sat down by him, and rubbing his head, leaning on his
arm, and making an uneasy countenance, he began ; • There is no manner of news to-day, I cannot tell ( what is the matter with me, but I slept very ill last night; whether I caught cold or no, I know not, but I fancy I do not wear shoes thick enough for • the weather, and I have coughed all this week: it ( must be so, for the custom of washing my head ( winter and summer with cold water, prevents any injury from the season entering that way; so it must come in at my feet, but I take no notice of it: as it comes so it goes. Most of our evils proceed from too much tenderness ; and our faces are naturally as little able to resist the cold as other parts. The Indian answered very well to an Eu
ropean, who asked him how he could go naked ; ! I am all face.'
I observed this discourse was as welcome to my general inquirer as any other of more consequence could have been; but somebody calling our talker to another part of the room, the inquirer told the next man who sat by him, that Mr. Such-a-one, who was just gone from him, used to wash his head in cold water every morning; and so repeated almost verbatim all. that had been said to him. The truth is, the inquisitive are the funnels of conversation ; they do not take in
any thing for their own use, but merely to pass it to another: they are the channels through which all the good and evil that is spoken in town are conveyed. Such as are offended at them, or think they suffer by their behaviour, may themselves mend that inconve-, nience ; for they are not a malicious people, and if you will supply them, you may contradict any thing they have said before by their own mouths.
À farther account of a thing is one of the gratefulest goods that can arrive to them, and it is seldom that they are more particular than to say, the town will have it, or I have it from a good hand : so that there is room for the town to know the matter more particularly, and for
better hand to contradict what was said by a good one.
I have not known this humour more ridiculous than in a father, who has been earnestly solicitous to have an account how his son passed his leisure hours ; if it be in a way thoroughly insignificant, there cannot be a greater joy than an enquirer discovers in seeing him follow so hopefully his own steps : but this humour among men is most pleasant when they are saying something which is not wholly proper for a third person to hear, and yet is in itself indifferent. The other day there came in a well dressed young fellow, and two gentlemen of this species immediately fell a whispering his pedigree. I could overhear, by breaks, She was his aunt; then an answer, Ay, she was of the mother's side: then again in a little lower voice, His father wore generally a darker wig; answer, Not much. But this gentleman wears higher heels to his shoes.
As the inquisitive, in my opinion, are such merely from a vacancy in their own imaginations, there is nothing, methinks, so dangerous as to communicate secrets to them ; for the same temper of enquiry makes them as impertinently communicative : but no man, though he converses with them, need put himself in their power, for they will be contented with matters of less moment as well. When there is fue} enough, no matter what it is-Thus the ends of sentences in newspapers, as, “this wants confirmation, “ this occasions many speculations, and, time will « discover the event," are read by them, and considered not as mere expletives.
One may see now and then this humour accompanied with an insatiable desire of knowing what passes, without turning it to any use in the world but merely their own entertainment. A mind which is gratified this way is adapted to humour and pleasantry, and formed for an unconcerned character in the world ;
and, like myself, to be a mere spectator.
This curiosity, without realice or self-interest, lays up in te imagination, a magazine of circumstances which cannot but entertain when they are produced in conversation. If one were to know, from the man of the first quality to the meanest servant, the different intrigues, sentiments, pleasures, and interests of mankind, would it not be the most pleasing entertainment imaginable to enjoy so constant a farce, as the observing mankind much more different from themselves in their secret thoughts and public actions, than in their night-caps and long periwigs?
« Mr. Spectator, « PLUTARCH tells us, that Caius Gracchus, the . Roman, was frequently hurried by his passion into
so loud and tumultous a way of speaking, and so 6 strained his voice as not to be able to proceed. To
remedy this excess, he had an ingenious servant, by name Licinius, always attending him with a pitch
pipe, or instrument to regulate the voice; who, 6 whenever he heard his master begin to be high, im6 mediately touched a soft note ; at which, it is said, • Caius would presently abate and grow calm.
Upon recollecting this story, I have frequently s wondered that this useful instrument should have
been so long discontinued ; especially since we find " that this good office of Licinius has preserved his memory
many hundred years, which, methinks, should have encouraged some one to have revived it, if not for the public good, yet for his own credit.
It may be objected, that our loud talkers are so • fond of their own noise, that they would not take
it well to be checked by their servants : but grant• ing this to be true, surely any of their hearers have
a very good title to play a soft note in their own 6 defence. To be short, no Licinius appearing, and
the noise increasing, I was resolved to give this