Page images

N° 562 Vain-Glory and Self-Conceit. To fhew their particu lar Averfion to it, they branded this Form of Writing with the Name of an Egotifm; a Figure not to be found among the ancient Rhetoricians.

THE most violent Egotifm which I have met with in the Course of my Reading,is that of Cardinal Woolfey, Ego & Rex meus, I and my King; as perhaps the most eminent Egotift that ever appeared in the World, was Montagne the Author of the celebrated Effays. This lively old Gafeon has woven all his bodily Infirmities into his Works, and after having spoken of the Faults or Virtues of any other Man, immediately publishes to the World how it ftands with himfelf in that Particular. Had he kept his own Counsel he might have paffed for a much better Man, though perhaps he would not have been fo diverting an Author. The Title of an Effay promifes perhaps a Difcourfe upon Virgil or Julius Cafar; but when you look into it, you are fure to meet with more upon Monfieur Montagne, than of either of them. The younger Scaliger, who feems to have been HO great Friend to this Author, after having acquainted the World that his Father fold Herrings, adds thefe Words; La grande fadaife de Montagne, qui a efcript qu'il aimoit mieux le vin blanc que diable a-t-on à faire de fçavoir ce qu'il aime? For my Part, fays Montagne, I am a great Lover of your White Wines What the Devil fignifies it to the Publick, fays Scaliger, whether he is a Lover of White Wines or of Red Wines?

I cannot here forbear mentioning a Tribe of Egotifts for whom I have always had a mortal Averfion, I mean the Authors of Memoirs, who are never mentioned in any Works but their own, and who raife all their Productions out of this fingle Figure of Speech.

MOST of our modern Prefaces favour very strong ly of the Egotifm. Every infignificant Author fancies it of Importance to the World, to know that he writ his Book in the Country, that he did it to pafs away fome of his idle Hours, that it was publifhed at the Importunity of Friends, or that his natural Temper, Studies or Converfations, directed him to the Choice of his Subject,


Id populus curat fcilicet.

Such Informations cannot but be highly improving to the Reader.

IN Works of Humour, efpecially when a Man writes under a fictitious Perfonage, the talking of one's felf may give fome Diverfion to the Publick; but I would advife every other Writer never to fpeak of himself, unless there be something very confiderable in his Character: Tho' I am fenfible this Rule will be of little Ufe in the World, becaufe there is no Man who farcies his Thoughts worth publifhing, that does not look upon himself as a confiderable Perfon.

I fhall close this Paper with a Remark upon fuch as are Egotifts in Converfation: Thefe are generally the vain or fhallow part of Mankind, People being natusally full of themselves when they have nothing else in them. There is one kind of Egotifts which is very common in the World, tho' I do not remember that any Writer has taken Notice of them; I mean those empty conceited Fellows, who repeat as Sayings of their own, or fome of their particular Friends, feveral Jefts which were made before they were born, and which every one who has converfed in the World has heard a hundred times over. A forward young Fellow of my Acquaintance was very guilty of this Abfurdity: He would be always laying a new Scene for fome old Piece of Wit, and telling us, That as he and Jack fuch-a-one were together, one or t'other of them had fuch a Conceit on fuch an Occafion; upon which he would laugh very heartily, and wonder the Company did not join with him. When his Mirth was over, I have often reprehended him out of Terence, Tu umne, obfecro te, hoc dictum erat? vetus credidi. finding him ftill incorrigible, and having a Kindness for the young Coxcomb, who was otherwife a good-natured Fellow, I recommended to his Perufal the Oxford and Cambridge Jefts, with feveral little Pieces of Pleafantry of the fame Nature. Upon the reading of them, he was under no fmall Confufion to find that all his Jokes


Jokes had paffed through feveral Editions, and that what he thought was a new Conceit, and had appropainted to his own Ufe, had appeared in Print before he or his ingenious Friends were ever heard of. This had fo good an Effect upon him, that he is content at prefent to pafs for a Man of plain Sense in his ordinary Converfation, and is never facetious but when he knows his Company.

PROGALAJOKES N° 563. Monday, July 5.


[blocks in formation]

Shall entertain my Reader with two very curious Letters. The firft of them comes from a chimerical Perfon, who I believe never writ to any Body



I Am defcended from the Ancient Family of the Blanks, a Name well known among all Men of Bufinefs. It is always read in thofe little white Spaces of Writing which want to be filled up, and which for that Reafon are called blank Spaces, as of right appertaining to our Family: For I confider my felf as the Lord of a Manor, who lays his Claim to all Waftes or Spots of • Ground that are unappropriated. I am a near Kinfman to John a Styles and John a Nokes; and they, I am told, came in with the Conqueror. I am mentioned oftener in both Houfes of Parliament than any other Perfor • in Great Britain. My Name is written, or more properly speaking, not written, thus,

[ocr errors]

I am one that can turn my Hand to every thing, and appear under any Shape whatfoever. I can make my felf Man, Woman, or Child. I am fometimes metamorphofed into a Year of our Lord, a Day of the Month, or an Hour of the Day. I very often re


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

prefent a Sum of Mony, and am generally the first Subfidy that is granted to the Crown. I have now and then fupplied the Place of feveral Thousands of Land Soldiers, and have as frequently been employed in the Sea Service.

[ocr errors]

Now, Sir, my Complaint is this, that I am only made ufe of to serve a Turn, being always difcarded as foon as a proper Perfon is found out to fill up my Place. IF you have ever been in the Play-houfe before the Curtain rifes, you see most of the Front Boxes filled with Men of my Family, who forthwith turn "out and refign their Stations upon the Appearance of thofe for whom they are retained.

BUT the moft illuftrious Branch of the Blanks are thofe who are planted in high Pofts, till fuch time as Perfons of greater Confequence can be found out to fupply them. One of thefe Blanks is equally quali 'fied for all Offices; he can ferve in time of Need for a Soldier, a Politician, a Lawyer, or what you please. • I have known in my Time many a Brother Blank that has been born under a lucky Planet, heap up great Riches, and fwell into a Man of Figure and Importance, before the Grandees of his Party could agree a· mong themselves which of them fhould ftep into his Place. Nay, I have known a Blank continue fo long in one of these vacant Pofts, (for fuch it is to be reck⚫oned all the Time a Blank is in it) that he has grown 'too formidable and dangerous to be removed.

[ocr errors]


BUT to return to my felf. Since I am so very • commodious a Perfon, and fo very neceffary in all well-regulated Governments, I defire you will take my Cafe into Confideration, that I may be no longer • made a Tool of, and only employed to ftop a Gap. Such Ufage, without a Pun, makes me look very blank. For all which Reasons I humbly recommend < my felf to your Protection, and am

Your moft obedient Servant,


P. S. I herewith fend you a Paper, drawn up by a ⚫ Country-Attorney employed by two Gentlemen, whofe


[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Names he was not acquainted with, and who did not think fit to let him into the Secret which they were tranfacting. I heard him call it a Blank Inftrument, and read it after the following Manner. You may fee by this fingle Inftance of what Use I am to the bufy World.

IT. Blank, Efq; of Blank Town, in the County of Blank, do own my felf indebted in the Sum of Blank, to Goodman Blank, for the Service he did me in procuring for me the Goods following, Blank: And I do hereby promife the faid Blank to pay unto him the said Sum of Blank, on the Blank Day of the Month of Blank next enfuing, under the Penalty and Forfeiture of Blank.

I shall take Time to confider the Cafe of this my imaginary Correfpondent, and in the mean while fhall pres fent my Reader with a Letter which feems to come from a Perfon that is made up of Flesh and Blood.



Am married to a very honeft Gentleman that is exceedingly good-natured, and at the fame time very cholerick. There is no ftanding before him when he is in a Paffion; but as foon as it is over he is the best-humour'd Creature in the World. When he is angry, he breaks all my China Ware that chances to lie in his Way, and the next Morning fends me in twice as much as he broke the Day before. I may pofitively fay, that he has broke me a Child's Fortune fince we were first marry'd together.

AS foon as he begins to fret, down goes every thing that is within Reach of his Cane. I once prevailed upon him never to carry a Stick in his Hand, but this faved me nothing; for upon feeing me do fomething that did not pleafe him, he kicked down a great Jarr, that coft him above Ten Pound but the Week before. I then laid the Fragments together in a Heap, and gave him his Cane again, defiring him that if he chanced to be in Anger, he would fpend his Paffion upon the China that was broke to his Hand: But the very next Day upon my giving a ⚫ wrong

« EelmineJätka »