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imagine they came into the world to watch and govern its motions; and as to difference of brains, in quantity or quality, among those who are directors in faction, the doctor assured us, from his own knowledge, that it was a perfect trifle.
[From "The Tatler."]
OVERSTRAINED POLITENESS, OR VULGAR HOSPITALITY.
THOSE inferior duties of life, which the French call les petites morales, or the smaller morals, are with us distinguished by the name of good manners, or breeding. This I look upon, in the general notion of it, to be a sort of artificial good sense, adapted to the meanest capacities, and introduced to make mankind easy in their commerce with each other. It is odd to consider, that, for want of common discretion, the very end of good breeding is wholly perverted; and civility, intended to make us easy, is employed in laying chains and fetters upon us, in debarring us of our wishes, and in crossing our most reasonable desires and inclinations. This abuse reigneth chiefly in the country, as I found, to my vexation, when I was last there, in a visit I made to a neighbor, about two miles from my cousin. As soon as I entered the parlor, they put me into the great chair, that stood close by a huge fire, and kept me there by force, until I was almost stifled. Then a boy came, in a great hurry, to pull off my boots, which I in vain opposed, urging that I must return soon after dinner. In the mean time, the good lady whispered. her eldest daughter, and slipped a key into her hand. The girl returned instantly with a beer-glass, half full of aqua mirabilis and syrup of gilly-flowers. I took as much as I had a mind for; but madam vowed I should drink it off, for she was sure it would do me good, after coming out of the cold air; and I was forced to obey, which absolutely took away my stomach. When dinner came in, I had a mind to sit at a distance from the fire; but they told me it was as much as my life was worth, and set me with my back just against it. Although my appetite were quite gone, I resolved to force down as much as I could, and desired the leg of a pullet. "Indeed, Mr. Bicker
staff," says the lady, "you must eat a wing, to oblige me;" and` so put a couple upon my plate. I was persecuted at this rate, during the whole meal. As often as I called for small beer, the master tipped the wink, and the servant brought me a brimmer of October. Some time after dinner, I ordered my cousin's man, who came with me, to get ready the horses; but it was resolved I should not stir that night; and when I seemed pretty much bent upon going, they ordered the stable-door to be locked, and the children hid my cloak and boots. The next question was, what I would have for supper? I said, I never eat anything at night; but was, at last, in my own defence, obliged to name the first thing that came into my head. After three hours, spent chiefly in apologies for my entertainment, insinuating to me "that this was the worst time of the year for provisions; that they were at a great distance from any market; that they were afraid I should be starved; and that they knew they kept me to my loss," the lady went, and left me to her husband, for they took special care I should never be alone. As soon as her back was turned, the little Misses ran backwards and forwards every moment, and constantly, as they came in or went out, made a courtesy directly at me, which, in good manners, I was forced to return with a bow, and "Your humble servant, pretty Miss." Exactly at eight, the mother came up, and discovered, by the redness of her face, that supper was not far off. It was twice as large as the dinner, and my persecution doubled in proportion.
I desired, at my usual hour, to go to my repose; and was conducted to my chamber by the gentleman, his lady, and the whole train of children. They importuned me to drink something before I went to bed; and upon my refusing, at last left a bottle of stingo, as they called it, for fear I should wake and be thirsty in the night. I was forced, in the morning, to rise and dress myself in the dark, because they would not suffer my kinsman's servant to disturb me at the hour I wished to be called. I was now resolved to break through all measures, to get away; and, after sitting down to a monstrous breakfast of cold beef, mutton, neat's-tongues, venison-pasty, and stale beer, took leave of the family. But the gentleman would needs see
me part of my way, and carry me a short cut through his own grounds, which he told me would save half a mile's riding. This last piece of civility had like to have cost me dear, being once or twice in danger of my neck, by leaping over his ditches, and at last forced to alight in the dirt; when my horse, having slipped his bridle, ran away, and took us up more than an hour to recover him again. It is evident, that none of the absurdities I met with in this visit proceeded from an ill intention, but from a wrong judgment of complaisance, and a misapplication in the rules of it.
SIR RICHARD STEELE.
To Steele belongs the credit of first conceiving the idea of attacking the vices and follies of the age, through the medium of a periodical paper. This was the Tatler, a sinall sheet, appearing three times a week. His friend Addison began to assist him with a few papers, and soon, in a somewhat modified form, it was changed to the Spectator, which, published daily, was received at the breakfast-tables of persons of taste, and in which Steele and Addison were equally interested; the humorous sketches being mostly by the former, and those of a grave character by the latter. The Guardian was another publication of the same kind, sustained by the same writers. The influence of these publications on the morality, piety, manners and intelligence, of the English people, was very beneficial.
[From "The Guardian.”]
TOM LIZARD told us a story, the other day, of some persons which our family know very well, with so much humor and life, that it caused a great deal of mirth at the tea-table. His brother, Will, the Templar, was highly delighted with it; and the next day, being with some of his Inns-of-court acquaintance, resolved to entertain them with what he called "a pleasant humor enough." I was in great pain for him when I heard him begin, and was not at all surprised to find the company very little moved by it. Will blushed, looked round the room, and, with a forced laugh, "Faith, gentlemen," said he, "I do not know what makes you look so grave; it was an admirable story when I heard it!"
When I came home, I fell into a profound contemplation upon story-telling; and, as I have nothing so much at heart as the good of my country, I resolved to lay down some precautions upon this subject.
I have often thought that a story-teller is born, as well as a poet. It is, I think, certain, that some men have such a peculiar cast of mind, that they see things in another light than men of grave dispositions. Men of lively imaginations and a mirthful temper will represent things to their hearers in the same manner as they themselves were affected with them; and whereas serious spirits might perhaps have been disgusted at the sight of some odd occurrences in life, yet the very same occurrences shall please them in a well-told story, where the disagreeable parts of the images are concealed, and those only which are pleasing exhibited to the fancy. Story-telling is, therefore, not an art, but what we call a "knack;" it doth not so much subsist upon wit as upon humor; and, I will add, that it is not perfect without proper gesticulations of the body, which naturally attend such merry emotions of the mind.
I would advise all professors of this art never to tell stories but as they seem to grow out of the subject-matter of the conversation, or as they serve to illustrate or enliven it. Stories that are very common are generally irksome, but may be aptly introduced, provided they be only hinted at, and mentioned by way of allusion. Those that are altogether new should never be ushered in without a short and pertinent character of the persons concerned. A little circumstance in the complexion or dress of the man you are talking of, sets his image before the hearer, if it be chosen aptly for the story. Besides the marking distinct characters, and selecting pertinent circumstances, it is likewise necessary to leave off in time, and end smartly; so that there is a kind of drama in the forming the story; and the manner of conducting and pointing it is the same as in an epigram. It is a miserable thing, after one hath raised the expectation of the company by humorous characters, and a pretty conceit, to pursue the matter too far. There is no retreating; and how poor is it for a story-teller to end his relation by saying, "That's all!"
As the choosing of pertinent circumstances is the life of a story, so the collectors of impertinent particulars are the very bane and opiates of conversation. Poor Ned Pappyhe's gone! was a very honest man, but was so excessively tedious over his pipe, that he was not to be endured. He knew so exactly what they had for dinner, when such a thing happened; in what ditch his bay horse had his sprain at that time; and how his man John - no, it was William - started a hare in the common field, that he never got to the end of his tale. Then he was exceedingly particular in marriages and intermarriages, and cousins twice or thrice removed; and whether such a thing happened at the latter end of July, or the beginning of August. He had a marvellous tendency, likewise, to digression, insomuch that if a considerable person was mentioned in his story, he would straightway launch out into an episode of him; and again, if in that person's story he had occasion to remember a third man, he broke off, and gave us his history, and so on. He always put me in mind of what Sir William Temple informs us of the tale-tellers in the north of Ireland, who are hired to tell stories of giants and enchanters, to lull people asleep. These historians are obliged, by their bargain, to go on, without stopping; so that, after the patient hath, by this benefit, enjoyed a long nap, he is sure to find the operator proceeding in his work, Ned procured the like effect in me, the last time I was with him. As he was in the third hour of his story, and very thankful that his memory did not fail him, I fairly nodded in the elbowchair. He was much affronted at this, till I told him, "Old friend, you have your infirmity, and I have mine."
JOSEPH ADDISON. 1672-1719.
It is upon Addison's prose writings, in the Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian, which have been referred to in the notice of Steele, that his fame chiefly rests. In these, both in matter and manner, he was superior to Steele; and to them the English language is" indebted for the formation of a style, beyond all former precedent, pure, fascinating and correct." 66 They also led the way to just criticism, and to the beginning of a true taste in the fields of fancy and picturesque beauty." Addison first distinguished himself as a poet. His tragedy of Cato is