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by a most profound Silence; for during the Space of eight Years, excepting in the publick 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 show 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 myself right 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 publick Places, though
there are not above half a dozen of my select Friends that know me; of whom my next Paper shall give a more particular Account. 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 listning 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, overhear the Conversation of every Table in the Room. I appear on Sunday Nights at St. James's Coffee-house, and sometimes join the little Committee of Politicks in the InnerRoom, 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 DruryLane and the Hay-Market. I have been taken for a Merchant upon the Exchange for above these ten Years, and sometimes pass for a Jew in the Assembly of Stock-Jobbers at Jonathan's : In short, where-ever I see a Cluster of People, I always mix with them, though I never open my Lips but in my own Club.
Thus I live in the World rather as a Spectator of Mankind, than as one of the Species; by which Means I have made myself a Speculative Statesman, Soldier, Merchant, and Artisan, without ever meddling with
any practical Part in Life. I am very well versed in the Theory of a Husband or a Father, and can discern the Errors in the economy, Business, and Diversion of others, better than those who are engaged in them; as Standers-by discover Blots, which are apt to escape those who are in the Game. I never espoused any Party with Violence, and am resolved to observe an exact Neutrality between the Whigs and Tories, unless I shall be forced to declare myself by the Hostilities of either Side. In short, I have acted in all the Parts of my Life as a Looker-on, which is the Character I intend to preserve in this Paper.
There are three very material Points which I have not spoken to in this Paper; and which, for several important Reasons, I must keep to myself, at least for some Time; I mean, an Account of my Name, my Age, and my Lodgings. I must confess, I would gratify my Reader in any Thing that is reasonable ; but as for these three Particulars, though I am sensible they might tend very much to the Embellishment of my Paper, I cannot yet come to a Resolution of communicating them to the Publick. They would indeed draw me out of that Obscurity which I have enjoyed for many Years, and expose me in publick Places to several Salutes and Civilities, which have been always very disagreeable to me;
for the greatest Pain I can suffer, is the being talked to, and being stared at. It is for this Reason likewise, that I keep my Complexion and Dress as very great Secrets; though it is not impossible, but I may make Discoveries of both in the Progress of the Work I have undertaken.
After having been thus particular upon myself, I shall in To-morrow's Paper give an Account of those Gentlemen who are concerned with me in this Work ; for, as I have before intimated, a Plan of it is laid and concerted (as all other Matters of Importance are) in a Club. However, as my Friends have engaged me to stand in the Front, those who have a Mind to correspond with me, may direct their Letters to the SPECTATOR, at Mr. Buckley's in Little-Britain. For I must further acquaint the Reader, that though our Club meets only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we have appointed a Committee to sit every Night, for the inspection of all such Papers as may contribute to the Advancement of the Publick Weal.
London, Thursday, March 1, 1710-11.