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endeavour to get a patent, which shall oblige every club or company to provide themselves with one of these watches, that shall lie upon the table, as an hourglass is often placed near the pulpit, to measure out the length of a discourse.
I shall be willing to allow a man one round of my watch, that is, a whole minute, to speak in ; but if he exceeds that time, it shall be lawful for any of the company to look upon the watch, or to call him down to order.
Provided, however, that if any one can make it appear he is turned of threescore, he may take two, or, if he pleases, three rounds of the watch without giving offence. Provided, also, that this rule be not construed to extend to the fair sex, who shall still be at liberty to talk by the ordinary watch that is now in
I would likewise earnestly recommend this little automaton, which may be easily carried in the pocket without any incumbrance, to all such as are troubled with this infirmity of speech, that upon pulling out their watches, they may have frequent occasion to consider what they are doing, and by that means cut the thread of the story short, and hurry to a conclusion. I shall only add, that this watch, with a paper of directions how to use it, is sold at Charles Lillie's.
I am afraid a Tatler will be thought a very improper paper to censure this humour of being talkative; but I would have my readers know that there is a great difference between tattle and loquacity, as I shall show at large in a following lucubration ; it being my design to throw away a candle upon that subject, in order to explain the whole art of tattling in all its branches and subdivisions.
[Tatler, No. 264.
Inquisitive men and Loud Talkers
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 observe, that though he speaks as good sense as any man upon anything 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 to still 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 making 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 your talkative 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 European, 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 anything 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 inconvenience ; for they are not a malicious people, and if you will supply them, you may contradict anything they have said before by their own mouths. A farther account of a thing one of the gratefullest 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 a 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 has passed his leisure hours ; if it be in a way thoroughly insignificant, there cannot be a greater joy than an inquirer 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 inquiry 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 fuel enough, no matter what it is -thus the ends of sentences in the 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 malice or self-interest, lays up in the 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 nightcaps and long periwigs?
'Plutarch tells us, that Caius Gracchus, the Roman, was frequently hurried in his passion into so loud and tumultuous a way of speaking, and so strained his voice, as not to be able to proceed. To remedy this excess, he had an ingenious servant, by name