« AnkstesnisTęsti »
thereof to me, at J. Morphew's, and they shall have justice done them. At the same time that I have this concern for men and things that deserve reputation and have it not, I am resolved to examine into the claims of such ancients and moderns as are in possession of it, with a design to displace them, in case I find their titles defective. The first whose merits I shall inquire into, are some merry gentlemen of the French nation, who have written very advantageous histories of their exploits in war, love, and politics, under the title of Memoirs. I am afraid I shall find several of these gentlemen tardy, because I hear of them in no writings but their own. read the narrative of one of these authors, you would fancy that there was not an action in a whole campaign which he did not contrive or execute; yet, if you consult the history or gazettes of those times, you do not find him so much as at the head of a party from one end of the summer to the other. But it is the way of these great men, when they lie behind their lines, and are in a time of inaction, as they call it, to pass away their time in writing their exploits. By this means, several who are either unknown or despised in the present age, will be famous in the next, unless a sudden stop be put to such pernicious practices. There are others of that gay people, who, as I am informed, will live half a year together in a garret, and write a history of their intrigues in the court of France. As for politicians, they do not abound with that species of men so much as we; but as ours are not so famous for writing, as for extemporary dissertations in coffee-houses, they are more annoyed with memoirs of this nature also than we are. The most immediate remedy that I can apply to prevent this growing evil, is, That I do hereby give notice to all booksellers and translators whatsoever, that the word Memoir is French for a
novel; and to require of them that they sell and translate it accordingly.
Will's Coffee-house, October 21.
Coming into this place to-night, I met an old friend of mine, who a little after the restoration writ an epigram with some applause, which he has lived upon ever since; and by virtue of it, has been a constant frequenter of this coffee-house for forty years. He took me aside, and with a great deal of friendship told me he was glad to see me alive, 'for,' says he, 'Mr. Bickerstaff, I am sorry to find you have raised many enemies by your lucubrations. There are indeed some,' says he, whose enmity is the greatest honour they can shew a man; but have you lived to these years, and do not know that the ready way to disoblige is to give advice? you may endeavour to guard your children, as you call them; butHe was going on; but I found the disagreeableness of giving advice without being asked, by my own impatience of what he was about to say: in a word, I begged him to give me the hearing of a short fable.
A gentleman,' says I, 'who was one day slumbering in an arbour, was on a sudden awakened by the gentle biting of a lizard, a little animal remarkable for its love to mankind. He threw it from his hand with some indignation, and was rising up to kill it, when he saw a huge venomous serpent sliding towards him on the other side, which he soon destroyed; reflecting afterward with gratitude upon his friend that saved him, and with anger against himself, that had shewn so little sense of a good office.'
END OF VOL. II.
Printed by J. F. Dove, St. John's Square.