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SIR ROGER DE COVERLEY PAPERS
I. THE SPECTATOR'S ACCOUNT OF HIMSELF.
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 ic 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.
I was born to a small hereditary estate, which, according to the tradition of the village where it lies, 15 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, before 5 I was born, my mother dreamt that she was to bring
forth a judge; whether this might proceed from a lawsuit 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 pre10 saged any dignity that I should arrive at in my future
life, though that was the interpretation which the neighborhood put upon it. The gravity of my behavior at my very first appearance in the world
seemed to favor my mother's dream; for, as she has 15 often told me, I threw away my rattle before I was
two months old, and would not make use of my coral till 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 20 find that, during my nonage, I had the reputation of
a very sullen youth, but was always a favorite 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 25 profound silence; for, during the space of eight years, excepting in the public 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 5 diligence to my studies, that there are very few celebrated books, either in the learnedo or 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 10 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 anything new or strange to be seen; nay, to 15 such a degree was my curiosity raised, that having read the controversieso 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 25
that know me: of whom my next paper shall give a more particular account. There is no place of genera? resort wherein I do not often make my appearance;
sometimes I am seen thrusting my head into a round 5 of politicians at Will's, and listening with great atten
tion to the narratives that are made in those little circular audiences. Sometimes I smoke a pipe at Child's,° and while I seem attentive to nothing but the
Postman,° overhear the conversation of every table in 10 the room. I appear on Sunday nights at St. James's
coffee-house, and sometimes join the little committee of politics in the inner room, 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 Drury Lane 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 Jona
than's.' In short, wherever I see a cluster of people, 20 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, 35 merchant, and artisan, without ever meddling with