No. 317 [from The Spectator] by Joseph Addison

Story type: Essay

No. 317.
Tuesday, March 4, 1712. Addison.

–fruges consumere nati.


Augustus, a few Moments before his Death, asked his Friends who stood about him, if they thought he had acted his Part well; and upon receiving such an Answer as was due to his extraordinary Merit, Let me then, says he, go off the Stage with your Applause; using the Expression with which the Roman Actors made their Exit at the Conclusion of a Dramatick Piece. I could wish that Men, while they are in Health, would consider well the Nature of the Part they are engaged in, and what Figure it will make in the Minds of those they leave behind them: Whether it was worth coming into the World for; whether it be suitable to a reasonable Being; in short, whether it appears Graceful in this Life, or will turn to an Advantage in the next. Let the Sycophant, or Buffoon, the Satyrist, or the Good Companion, consider with himself, when his Body shall be laid in the Grave, and his Soul pass into another State of Existence, how much it will redound to his Praise to have it said of him, that no Man in England eat better, that he had an admirable Talent at turning his Friends into Ridicule, that no Body out-did him at an Ill-natured Jest, or that he never went to Bed before he had dispatched his third Bottle. These are, however, very common Funeral Orations, and Elogiums on deceased Persons who have acted among Mankind with some Figure and Reputation.

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But if we look into the Bulk of our Species, they are such as are not likely to be remembred a Moment after their Disappearance. They leave behind them no Traces of their Existence, but are forgotten as tho they had never been. They are neither wanted by the Poor, regretted by the Rich, [n]or celebrated by the Learned. They are neither missed in the Commonwealth, nor lamented by private Persons. Their Actions are of no Significancy to Mankind, and might have been performed by Creatures of much less Dignity, than those who are distinguished by the Faculty of Reason. An eminent French Author speaks somewhere to the following Purpose: I have often seen from my Chamber-window two noble Creatures, both of them of an erect Countenance and endowed with Reason. These two intellectual Beings are employed from Morning to Night, in rubbing two smooth Stones one upon another; that is, as the Vulgar phrase it, in polishing Marble.

My Friend, Sir ANDREW FREEPORT, as we were sitting in the Club last Night, gave us an Account of a sober Citizen, who died a few Days since. This honest Man being of greater Consequence in his own Thoughts, than in the Eye of the World, had for some Years past kept a Journal of his Life. Sir ANDREW shewed us one Week of it. [Since [1]] the Occurrences set down in it mark out such a Road of Action as that I have been speaking of, I shall present my Reader with a faithful Copy of it; after having first inform’d him, that the Deceased Person had in his Youth been bred to Trade, but finding himself not so well turned for Business, he had for several Years last past lived altogether upon a moderate Annuity.

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MONDAY, Eight-a-Clock. I put on my Cloaths and walked into the Parlour.

Nine a-Clock, ditto. Tied my Knee-strings, and washed my Hands.

Hours Ten, Eleven and Twelve. Smoaked three Pipes of Virginia. Read the Supplement and Daily Courant. Things go ill in the North. Mr. Nisby’s Opinion thereupon.

One a-Clock in the Afternoon. Chid Ralph for mislaying my Tobacco-Box.

Two a-Clock. Sate down to Dinner. Mem. Too many Plumbs, and no Sewet.

From Three to Four. Took my Afternoons Nap.

From Four to Six. Walked into the Fields. Wind, S. S. E.

From Six to Ten. At the Club. Mr. Nisby’s Opinion about the Peace.

Ten a-Clock. Went to Bed, slept sound.

TUESDAY, BEING HOLIDAY, Eight a-Clock. Rose as usual.

Nine a-Clock. Washed Hands and Face, shaved, put on my double-soaled Shoes.

Ten, Eleven, Twelve. Took a Walk to Islington.

One. Took a Pot of Mother Cobs Mild.

Between Two and Three. Return’d, dined on a Knuckle of Veal and Bacon. Mem. Sprouts wanting.

Three. Nap as usual.

From Four to Six. Coffee-house. Read the News. A Dish of Twist. Grand Vizier strangled.

From Six to Ten. At the Club. Mr. Nisby’s Account of the Great Turk.

Ten. Dream of the Grand Vizier. Broken Sleep.

WEDNESDAY, Eight a-Clock. Tongue of my Shooe-Buckle broke. Hands but not Face.

Nine. Paid off the Butchers Bill. Mem. To be allowed for the last Leg of Mutton.

Ten, Eleven. At the Coffee-house. More Work in the North. Stranger in a black Wigg asked me how Stocks went.

From Twelve to One. Walked in the Fields. Wind to the South.

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From One to Two. Smoaked a Pipe and an half.

Two. Dined as usual. Stomach good.

Three. Nap broke by the falling of a Pewter Dish. Mem. Cook-maid in Love, and grown careless.

From Four to Six. At the Coffee-house. Advice from Smyrna, that the Grand Vizier was first of all strangled, and afterwards beheaded.

Six a-Clock in the Evening. Was half an Hour in the Club before any Body else came. Mr. Nisby of Opinion that the Grand Vizier was not strangled the Sixth Instant.

Ten at Night. Went to Bed. Slept without waking till Nine next Morning.

THURSDAY, Nine a-Clock. Staid within till Two a-Clock for Sir Timothy; who did not bring me my Annuity according to his Promise.

Two in the Afternoon. Sate down to Dinner. Loss of Appetite. Small Beer sour. Beef over-corned.

Three. Could not take my Nap.

Four and Five. Gave Ralph a box on the Ear. Turned off my Cookmaid. Sent a Message to Sir Timothy. Mem. I did not go to the Club to-night. Went to Bed at Nine a-Clock.

FRIDAY, Passed the Morning in Meditation upon Sir Timothy, who was with me a Quarter before Twelve.

Twelve a-Clock. Bought a new Head to my Cane, and a Tongue to my Buckle. Drank a Glass of Purl to recover Appetite.

Two and Three. Dined, and Slept well.

From Four to Six. Went to the Coffee-house. Met Mr. Nisby there. Smoaked several Pipes. Mr. Nisby of opinion that laced Coffee is bad for the Head.

Six a-Clock. At the Club as Steward. Sate late.

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Twelve a-Clock. Went to Bed, dreamt that I drank Small Beer with the Grand Vizier.

SATURDAY. Waked at Eleven, walked in the Fields. Wind N. E.

Twelve. Caught in a Shower.

One in the Afternoon. Returned home, and dryed my self.

Two. Mr. Nisby dined with me. First Course Marrow-bones, Second Ox-Cheek, with a Bottle of Brooks and Hellier.

Three a-Clock. Overslept my self.

Six. Went to the Club. Like to have fal’n into a Gutter. Grand Vizier certainly Dead. etc.

I question not but the Reader will be surprized to find the above-mentioned Journalist taking so much care of a Life that was filled with such inconsiderable Actions, and received so very small Improvements; and yet, if we look into the Behaviour of many whom we daily converse with, we shall find that most of their Hours are taken up in those three Important Articles of Eating, Drinking and Sleeping. I do not suppose that a Man loses his Time, who is not engaged in publick Affairs, or in an Illustrious Course of Action. On the Contrary, I believe our Hours may very often be more profitably laid out in such Transactions as make no Figure in the World, than in such as are apt to draw upon them the Attention of Mankind. One may become wiser and better by several Methods of Employing ones Self in Secrecy and Silence, and do what is laudable without Noise, or Ostentation. I would, however, recommend to every one of my Readers, the keeping a Journal of their Lives for one Week, and setting down punctually their whole Series of Employments during that Space of Time. This Kind of Self-Examination would give them a true State of themselves, and incline them to consider seriously what they are about. One Day would rectifie the Omissions of another, and make a Man weigh all those indifferent Actions, which, though they are easily forgotten, must certainly be accounted for.

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[Footnote 1: [As]]

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