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to have thoughts of their own, and consequently lay a weight upon everything which they read in print. But Mr. Dawks concluded his paper with a courteous sentence, which was very well taken and applauded by the whole company.
'We wish,' says he, 'all our customers a merry Whitsuntide and many of them. Honest Ichabod is as extraordinary a man as any of our fraternity, and as particular. His style is a dialect between the familiarity of talking and writing, and his letter such as you cannot distinguish whether print or manuscript, which gives us a refreshment of the idea from what has been told us from the press by others. This wishing a good Tide had its effect upon us, and he was commended for his salutation, as showing as well the capacity of a bellman as a historian. My distempered old acquaintance read, in the next place, the account of the affairs abroad in the Courant : but the matter was told so distinctly, that these wanderers thought there was no news in it; this paper differing from the rest, as a history from a romance. The tautology, the contradiction, the doubts, and wants of confirmations, are what keep up imaginary entertainments in empty heads and produce neglect of their own affairs, poverty, and bankruptcy, in many of the shop-statesmen ; but turn the imaginations of those of a little higher orb into deliriums of dissatisfaction, which is seen in a continual fret upon all that touches their brains, but more particularly upon any advantage obtained by their country, where they are considered as lunatics, and therefore tolerated in their ravings.
What I am now warning the people of is, that the newspapers of this island are as pernicious to weak
heads in England, as ever books of chivalry to Spain ; and therefore shall do all that in me lies, with the utmost care and vigilance imaginable, to prevent these growing evils.
[Tatler, No. 178.
Dn Long-winded people
BOCCALINI, in his Parnassus, indicts a laconic writer for speaking that in three words which he might have said in two, and sentences him for his punishment to read over all the works of Guicciardini. This Guicciardini is so very prolix and circumstantial in his writings, that I remember our countryman, Doctor Donne, speaking of that majestic and concise manner in which Moses has described the creation of the world, adds, that if such an author as Guicciardini were to have written on such a subject, the world itself would not have been able to have contained the books that gave the history of its creation.'
I look upon a tedious talker, or what is generally known by the name of a story-teller, to be much more insufferable than even a prolix writer. An author may be tossed out of your hand, and thrown aside when he grows dull and tiresome; but such liberties are so far from being allowed towards your orators in common conversation, that I have known a challenge sent a person for going out of the room abruptly, and leaving a man of honour in the inidst of a dissertation. This evil is at present so very common and epidemical, that there is scarce a coffee-house in town that has not some speakers belonging to it, who utter their political essays, and draw parallels out of
Baker's Chronicle, to almost every part of her Majesty's reign. It was said of two ancient authors, who had very different beauties in their style, 'that if you took a word from one of them, you only spoiled his eloquence; but if you took a word from the other, you spoiled his sense. I have often applied the first part of this criticism to several of these coffee-house speakers whom I have at present in my thoughts, though the character that is given to the last of those authors, is what I would recommend to the imitation of my loving countrymen. But it is not only public places of resort, but private clubs and conversations over a bottle, that are infested with this loquacious kind of animal, especially with that species which I comprehend under the name of a story-teller. I would earnestly desire these gentlemen to consider, tha point of wit or mirth at the end of a story can atone for the half-hour that has been lost before they come at it. I would likewise lay it home to their serious consideration, whether they think that every man in the company has not a right to speak as well as themselves ? and whether they do not think they are invading another man's property, when they engross the time which should be divided equally among the company to their own private use?
What makes this evil the much greater in conversation is, that these humdrum companions seldom endeavour to wind up their narrations into a point of mirth or instruction, which might make some amends for the tediousness of them ; but think they have a right to tell anything that has happened within their memory. They look upon matter of fact to be a sufficient foundation for a story, and give us a long
account of things, not because they are entertaining or surprising, but because they are true.
My ingenious kinsman, Mr. Humphry Wagstaff, used to say, 'the life of man is too short for a storyteller.'
Methusalem might be half an hour in telling what o'clock it was : but as for us postdiluvians, we ought to do everything in haste; and in our speeches, as well as actions, remember that our time is short. A man that talks for a quarter of an hour together in company, if I meet him frequently, takes up a great part of my span. A quarter of an hour may be reckoned the eight and fortieth part of a day, a day the three hundred and sixtieth part of a year, and a year the threescore and tenth part of life. By this moral arithmetic, supposing a man to be in the talking world one third part of the day, whoever gives another a quarter of an hour's hearing, makes him a sacrifice of more than the four hundred thousandth part of his conversable life.
I would establish but one great general rule to be observed in all conversation, which is this, 'that men should not talk to please themselves, but those that hear them. This would make them consider, whether what they speak be worth hearing ; whether there be either wit or sense in what they are about to say ; and, whether it be adapted to the time when, the place where, and the person to whom, it is spoken.
For the utter extirpation of these orators and story-tellers, which I look upon as very great pests of society, I have invented a watch which divides the minute into twelve parts, after the same manner that
-ary watches are divided into hours : and will