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tation to forming characters and figures; and if my father happened to come into the nursery
pen hand, I was sure to throw away my bells and coral to grasp at that. These were only tricks of infancy. As I grew up, and was sent to school, my character still proceeded to develope itself-my childish sports were learning to write; at home or abroad, at school or in the street, I always had a pen in my hand; and have frequently spoiled my breakfast, by daubing the ink over my bread and butter. As I increased in years, this inclination increased with them, and there was no writing going on, in which I did not endeavor to have a hand. I wrote several epitaphs for country church yards, and have furnished the weather in an almanack for above forty years. In this last species of writing, I have succeeded wonderfully—the best criticks having allowed that I have very judiciously attended to the two great unities of time and place, in the distribution of my snow storms; and that I know how to rise with the March winds, and fall gently with the showers of April. I can also predict the first appearance of blossoms in very flowery language. I have sometimes terrified my readers, in these annual publications, by the boisterous words in which I have told them to expect the equinoxial storm;" and have raised some pleasing anticipations in the minds of several fair country lasses, by predicting, at the next harvest and husking, an unusual supply of red ears. I have likewise written several political pieces with credit, and many of the patriotic effusions of '75 were supplied from my pen, insomuch that I have myself thought that the revolution was as much indebted to my
writings, as to Tom Paine and Common Sense. But this portion of my labors I consider now lost to the world, as I have forgotten the names of the publications in which they appeared, (and presume every body has forgotten them also) and have no hope they will ever be brought before the public again by a second edition. The truth is, I am always writing; and the town would be more frequently amused and entertained with my
ideas, if the sapient editors of our newspapers were not such critical judges of style, taste, and belles-lettres, as to reject any communications that are not offered by the right person.
Although I have this unconquerable disposition for writing, I never run into those kind of literary vagaries which we are told infected the wits of a former age. I never undertook to write verses in the shape of a heart, altar, or true love knot; nor have I attempted with Puttenham, to erect a temple of words, whose columns should be worked off by syllables to proper proportions of the Corinthian order. My propensity leads me to write straight forward, and I expect immortality as an author, more from the number and extent of my writings, than from the shape of them.
With this view of my character and disposition, I offer myself to the Spectator; and with the encouragement and approbation of the proprietor of this paper, shall undertake to furnish it with occasional essays, under the title of "THE WRITER.” If there should be any
desire in the public to know something more of the
person and condition of the Writer, these may be more fully disclosed hereafter. In the mean time, for their immediate gratification, and particularly out of respect to the female part of my readers, I hereby make known, that I am a man of the common size, airy gait, strong and healthy, and wear no whiskers. A bachelor, of a middle age that is to say, verging towards three score; somewhat addicted to bowing; very fond of female company, and although not married myself, a great advocate for, and promoter of matrimony in others, and a very successful maker of matches; so that, should the young ladies of this metropolis engage me in their service, apply to me for advice, and conform a little to some general rules, which I may from time to time prescribe, I have no doubt of seeing by far the largest number of them in the list of wives and mothers, before they are out of their teens.
I will also apprize my readers, that I am a great traveller, and am particularly acquainted with the female fashions of all countries, from the elegant nudity of the Paris belle, to the modest Turkish lady, who suffers nothing but the tip end of her nose to go uncovered.
As to my political sentiments, I shall keep them to myself, and endeavor to steer a middle course between the two great parties, which now divide our country, I am particularly inclined to this, as some of our great men are prone to change, and therefore, by a magnanimous moderation, I may continue in their favor, although they should not continue their former opinions.
No. II....SATURDAY, MAY 21, 1814.
first number, I gave some account of my birth and character; in the present, I shall make the public acquainted with my opinions and manner of thinking. My readers will then perceive whether what I said of myself in the beginning will apply to me or not, viz.. that I am an odd sort of a fellow.
That my opinions are odd, very odd indeed, will readily be granted by all the fashionable, polite, and genteel part of this metropolis, when I tell them I am obstinate in maintaining that honesty is a greater moral virtue than riches,
and consequently that virtuous poverty ought, in a christian country, to receive more countenance and complacency, than splendid vice; that no man is honest who contracts debts by living so much above his income, as not to be able to pay them; that there is more merit in feeding by secret charity the poor, than in feasting ostentatiously the rich; that modesty is the prettiest ornament to a female face, and in the end will always have more admirers, of taste and sentiment, than forward impertinence, or the haughty assuming airs of a fashionable beauty; that not only modesty, but even learning, is an accomplishment in a lady, and Cowper, Milton, and Cicero, better authors to improve a female mind, than Tom Jones, Roderick Random, or the Mysteries of Udolpho.
I believe also, contrary to the belief of most of my gay neighbors, that there is more good instruction to be obtained at church, than in a play house; and that, in point of morals, and the improvement of religious affections, more is to be gained by attending divine service, than seeing the representation of any dramatic performance whatever; all the fine arguments which have been adduced to the contrary notwithstanding.
I have even been so bold as to asssert, that gaming, intemperance, and profanity, are not, strictly speaking, gentlemanly vices; but are often found among the low and vulgar; and therefore, every man who aspires to character and polite life, should be ashamed of them; and although I once received a challenge for incautiously letting slip such a sentiment, and came near having a pistol argument for my temerity, yet I never should
approve of these vices, even in a man who had fought twenty duels to defend them.
These are a few of what, when I am disposed to be humorous, I call my moral eccentricities. I have also some physical ones, for I always eat when I am hungry, and drink if I thirst, and never look at the town clock to know if I have an appetite, nor wait for the bells to ring to judge whether it is a proper time to break
fasts. I have moreover some strange notions respecting the natural world, believing iť full as rational that God should have created all worlds by the word of his power, as to account for their existence by supposing that they sprung spontaneously from matter, (before matter was created,) or were exploded, one after another, by volcanick eruptions.* That our Great Pacific Ocean was formed by the moon's having been shot out of this watery bed, appears to me
* See Darwin and others.
about as rational, as that the melting of the polar ice causes that wonderful phenomenon, the regular ebb and flowing of the tides, and I ingenuously confess that I do not believe a word of either.
If the public will bear with these oddities, and my readers encourage me to write, by even making themselves merry with my old fashion, and singular opinions, I shall continue to amuse or lecture, flatter or reproach them, as my several humors may happen to predominate.
No. III....SATURDAY, MAY 28, 1814.
As I am a man of leisure myself, and find a great many of my acquaintance and townsmen who appear to have equally nothing to do, I commonly join these my fellow laborers, and whether they lounge about the Exchange floor, or reel round the principal corners in Cornhill, am seen with them in these their usual places of employ. When the general court is in session, we have more business in hand, and very industriously crowd the lobbies, that we may bear testimony to the spirit and eloquence of this representative body. Thus it may
be said we have promoted laziness to a science, and, by a sort of community of interests, a mutual support of each other's burdens, and that countenance and confidence which number gives to each individual, we have nearly cleared ourselves of that disgrace which, in notable times, used to attach to habits of idleness. But here I wish it to be distinctly understood, that although I join in the daily employment of this fraternity of gentlemen, I solemnly protest that I am never with them when they assemble round the gaming table at night. This, they say, is one of my oddities, and so it passes off; and I am received amongst them in the morning, with as much good