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of so good a judge of what is valuable; in that library where the choice is such, that it will not be a disparagement to be the meanest author in it. Forgive me, my lord, for taking this occasion of telling all the world how ardently I love and honour you; and that I am, with the utmost gratitude for all your favours,


Your Lordship's most obliged,

Most obedient, and most humble servant,



No. 1, THURSDAY, MARCH 1, 1710-11.a

Non fumum ex fulgore, sed ex fumo dare lucem
Cogitat, ut speciosa dehinc miracula promat.

HOR. Ars Poet. ver. 149.

One with a flash bogins, and ends in smoke;
Another out of smoke brings glorious light,
And (without raising expectation high)
Surprises us with dazzling miracles.


I HAVE observed, that a reader seldom peruses a book with pleasure, till he knows whether the writer of it be a black or a fair man, of a mild or choleric disposition, married or a bachelor, with other particulars of the like nature, that conduce very much to the right understanding of an author. To gratify this curiosity, which is so natural to a reader, I design this paper and my next as prefatory discourses to my following writings, and shall give some account in them of the several persons that are engaged in this work. As the chief trouble of compiling, digesting, and correcting, will fall to my share, I must do myself the justice to open the work with my own history.

• The last paper of the genuine Tatler, No. 271, came out Jan. 2, 1710–11, so that the Censorship of Great Britain had now been about two months, as Steele expresses it, "in commission," i. e. in the state of the great seal of England entrusted to a keeper or commissioners, when the chancellor is absent from the kingdom on public business, as the bishop of Bristol was in Q. Anne's reign, or in the intervals between the death or resigna tion of one chancellor and the nomination of another.

VOL. I.-6

I was born to a small hereditary estate, which according to the tradition of the village where it lies, was bounded by the same hedges and ditches in William the Conqueror's time that it is at present, and has been delivered down from father to son, whole and entire, without the loss or acquisition of a single field or meadow, during the space of six hundred years. There runs a story in the family, that when my mother was gone with child of me about three months, she dreamt that she was brought to bed of a judge. Whether this might proceed from a law-suit which was then depending in the family, or my father's being a justice of the peace, I cannot determine; for I am not so vain as to think it presaged any dignity that I should arrive at in my future life, though that was the interpretation which the neighbourhood put upon it. The gravity of my behaviour at my very first appearance in the world, and all the time that I sucked, seemed to favour my mother's dream: for, as she has often told me, I threw away my rattle before I was two months old, and would not make use of my coral until they had taken away the bells from it.

As for the rest of my infancy, there being nothing in it remarkable, I shall pass it over in silence. I find, that during my nonage I had the reputation of a very sullen youth, but was always a favourite of my schoolmaster, who used to say, 'that my parts were solid, and would wear well.' I had not been long at the university, before I distinguished myself by a most profound silence; for, during the space of eight years, excepting in the public exercises of the college, I scarce uttered the quantity

b It was strange, said Charles II. on a similar declaration, 'that there was not in all that time a wise man, or a fool, in the family.'

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 shew 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 public 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 listening with great attention to the narratives that are made in those little circular audiences. Sometimes

• A sarcasm on Mr. Greaves and his book intitled Pyramidographia, no less reprehensible than preceding sarcastic remarks on the Royal Society, the futility and invidiousness of which have been sufficiently shewn in various notes on the Tatler passim.—See Biogr. Brit. art. Greaves; Tatler, No. 216, No. 221, and notes.

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