L O I T E R E R.
"Speak of us as we are."
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And ROLLASON, BIRMINGHAM; Mr. W. MEYLER, Grove,
BATH; AND Messrs. COWSLADE and SMART, READING.
L O I T E R E R.
SATURDAY, May 16, 1789.
Quandoque bonus dormitat homerus. HOR.
To the LOITERER,
Your very humble servant,
Sophia's Home page
THE conductor of a periodical paper bath been frequently, and not unaptly compared to the driver of a stage coach. Like him he is obliged to be ready at an appointed hour, and is in some measure equally obliged to conform to the humour of the public; as it will answer but little purpose for the one to drive an empty coach, or the other to publish a paper, which no body reads. They are both in their turns solicited, and sometimes bribed to entrust their respective reins to the presumption of many an unskilful youth, who burns with an ardent desire to flourish his whip, or his pen, but it behoves the drivers in both cases to keep a watchful eye over their pupils, least by too easy a compliance, they should suffer their vehicles to stick fast in a rut, to be plunged deep in the mire, or to be finally overturned and exposed to the derision of the multitude. The bribery of the Loiterer has hitherto been flattery alone; and it gives him concern to find, that a. resolution, which he appeared to adopt in a former paper, but which he has since found impossible to keep, should have been likely to lessen the number of his readers, and much more to deprive him of one, who seems willing to become an occasional correspondent. To shew this gentleman therefore, in whose name there is something of conceit, that the Loiterer is inclined to distinguish him from the common herd of Philos, who are in general very silly, and empty fellows, ready to snatch the whip without being able to give it the proper smack, he will for once trust the reins into his hands, and permit him to turn the corner, which he trusts he will do with a becoming grace, notwithstanding he withholds the usual bribe.
Being a constant reader of your paper from its first appearance, I claim the privilege of giving you my sentiments concerning it; and to be plain with you, I shall even confess that I had some thoughts of aspiring to the honour of assisting you now and then to carry it on. But just as I had come to this resolution, and had given myself the rousing shake, and had got my pen fairly dipped in the inkhorn, your ninth number was delivered to me, in which with inexpressible sorrow and confusion I found, that you had taken a resolution not to dream for the entertainment of your readers; to the generality of whom perhaps your reasons may be good and satisfactory; but to me they were peculiarly distressing and unfortunate; for you must know, Sir, that the greatest part of my life hath been hitherto spent in a kind of sleepy state, during which I have bad many dreams, both of the pleasing and unpleasing kind; some of which I have been anxious to communicate. No sooner did I read the advertisement of the Loiterer than I was charmed with the name, concluding we were congenial spirits, and that your paper was the destined vehicle, in which I was to eclipse all the dreams of antiquity. It was a certain sense of pride alone, which prevented me from immediately remonstrating, and pointing out to you the many elegant and instructive papers, which have been conveyed to the public, by your predecessors through the medium of dreams. — Judge, therefore, Sir, what pleasure I experienced, when by a late number I perceived that you had broke your rash determination, and had dreamt in spite of your boasting resolves to the contrary: and surely it was a fortunate circumstance for you; since every periodical writer has hitherto claimed a prescriptive privilege to dream for the good of the public, and why should the Loiterer object to it. The practice hath not been confined to the writers of moral, and entertaining essays alone; the poets to a man have indulged in this mode of conveying useful lessons to the world. To you it would be both impertinent, and pedantic to dwell on the names of Homer, or Virgil, or Milton, or Ariosto, or Tasso, blind Harry, or the Persian Ferdose; who have all in their turns very lovingly both dreamed and slept in company with their readers. Nor have the dramatic poets declined the practice, and one of them in particular, viz. Mr. William Shakespeare found out the happy art of keeping both his readers and his audience perfectly awake, whilst he bath himself been dreaming during a whole Midsummer’s night. Betwixt the reader and the writer there ought certainly to be a reciprocal indulgence, and I consider it a very sorry objection, when you tell us, that you “have often observed sleeping to be infectious; and consequently extremely liable to be transferred from the author to the readers.” Hitherto, my dear Sir, you have permitted the disposition to sleep chiefly to incline to the latter. But it may be proper for me to inform you who it is, that takes the liberty of treating you with so much familiarity.
I am, Sir, the son of Mr. Phillip O’Murphy, a reputable tradesman, from whom I enjoy, together with a small independent fortune, an hereditary disposition to fall asleep, and to dream whenever I please. It is recorded of my worthy progenitor, whose business was that of an Anchor Smith, that he slept regularly every afternoon to the sound of his workman’s hammers: and of such peculiar texture was the drum of his ear, that if at any time his men were disposed to take the advantage of his nap, no sooner did they relax in their industry, than he began to rouse himself; so that sleeping or waking he kept them to their duty. Many a time on a Saint Monday in the afternoon have they in vain attempted in the most gradual, and imperceptible manner to steal off; for no sooner did the noise of their hammers descend to a certain degree, than he discovered signs of restlessness, which as often obliged them to reiterate, and redouble their strokes in order to keep him quiet.
Notwithstanding he married for love, yet all the blandishments of that happy period were scarcely sufficient to prevent his disposition to a nap after dinner from taking place even during the honey-moon. My mother was a notable prudent woman, who to the day of her death resisted this propensity in my father; and even went so far as once to call in a neighbouring apothecary, to argue him out of it, as a thing detrimental to his bodily health. But this son of Galen, notwithstanding he quoted both Hippocrates and Paracelsus, was speedily reduced to a nonplus, when my Father very furiously demanded a reason why the whole animal creation, which follows the dictates of nature, should regularly lie down to sleep immediately after eating a hearty meal: and I have often heard him affirm, that he should certainly have obtained the flitch of bacon, if my mother had not unfortunately put in a word for the doctor, by declaring, that the only reason to be assigned was, because they were brute beasts.
It is currently believed by all our friends and neighbours, that I was procreated between sleeping and waking. In process of time, when my father had the misfortune to lose that excellent woman the wife of his bosom, it was generally concluded that nothing, but the prospect of an uninterrupted enjoyment of his favourite amusement (and negatively I trust I may be permitted to call it an amusement) would support him upon that melancholy occasion short sighted mortals! how little are we able to judge of futurity! how seldom do we know the value of the good things of this life till they are lost, or till it is too late to enjoy them! from that fatal period, my poor father was never known to enjoy a single nap after dinner. He soon found to his cost that that notable disposition, which had urged his wife to prevent him from sleeping, was the very thing even superior to the sound of his hammers, that had enabled him so to do. For the cares of the world abroad, the management of the family at home, came upon him so rapidly and so forcibly, that he soon languished, and followed his partner to the grave, leaving me an orphan to the care of his sister, Miss O’Murphy, a maiden aunt, of a disposition in every respect the reverse of my father’s.
I shall pass over the particulars of the early part of my education, and shall only mention, that being destined for a learned profession, I had the honour to spend some time at a celebrated university; where I remember to have been particularly delighted with the lectures of a famous philosopher and physiologist, who pronounced sleep to be the natural state of man, and that every exertion of his faculties, whether mental, or corporeal, was a violence done to nature. Wonder not, if I add with the poet, "seven years did I sleep, and then lost my degrees." Nay, I have ever wished that I had been born amongst that ancient sect of the Samaritans, the Dositheans, who amongst other tenets maintained, and resolved, that in whatever posture a person was found on the Sabbath-day in the morning, he ought to continue in the same the whole day without alteration. Happy would it be for some, I will not say all, the member of your University, if they would adopt the principles of the Dositheans.
But I fear I am sleeping too long; I will therefore hasten to conclude with this piece of advice. If you wish to thrive, Mr. Loiterer, and to live to a good old age, I will take upon me to say it is absolutely necessary, that you should continue in the practice of breaking your resolution; and I hope it will not be long, before you will at least entertain your readers with a second nap after dinner; till when I shall remain with all due respect (first softening a little the harshness of Philip O’Murphy).
:+: :+: :+: PHILO MORPHEUS.
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To the LOITERER,SIR,
Your very humble servant,
Sophia's Home page