Графични страници
PDF файл

likewise directed the clerk of the court to draw up an edict against these common cheats, that make women believe they are distracted for them by staring them out of countenance, and often blast a lady's reputation, whom they never spoke to, by saucy looks and distant familiarities.



No. 263.

Ax old friend of mine being lately come to town, I went to see him on Tuesday last about eight o'clock in the evening, with a design to sit with him an hour or two and talk over old stories; but, upon inquiring after him, his servant told me he was just gone to bed. The next morning, as soon as I was up and dressed, and had dispatched a little business, I came again to my friend's house about eleven o'clock, with a design to renew my visit; but, upon asking for him, his servant told me he was just sat down to dinner. In short, I found that my old-fashioned friend religiously adhered to the example of his forefathers, and observed the same hours that had been kept in the family ever since the conquest.

It is very plain that the night was much longer formerly in this island than it is at present. By the night I mean that portion of time which nature has thrown into darkness, and which the wisdom of mankind had formerly dedicated to rest and silence. This used to begin at eight o'clock in the evening, and conclude at six in the morning. The curfew, or eight o'clock bell, was the signal throughout the nation for putting out their candles and going to bed.


Our grandmothers, though they were wont to sit up the last in the family, were all of them fast asleep at the same hours that their daughters are busy at crimp and basset. Modern statesmen are concerting schemes, and engaged in the depth of politics, at the time when their forefathers were laid down quietly to rest, and had nothing in their heads but dreams. As we have thus thrown business and pleasure into the hours of rest, and by that means made the natural night but half as long as it should be, we are forced to piece it out with a great part of the morning; so that near two thirds of the nation lie fast asleep for several hours in broad day-light. This irregularity is grown so very fashionable at present, that there is scarce a lady of quality in Great Britain that ever saw the sun rise. And if the humour increases in proportion to what it has done of late years, it is not impossible but our children may hear the bellman going about the streets at nine o'clock in the morning, and the watch making their rounds until eleven. This unaccountable disposition in mankind to continue awake in the night, and sleep in the sunshine, has made me inquire whether the same change of inclination has happened to any other animals? For this reason I desired a friend of mine in the country to let me know whether the lark rises as early as he did formerly? and whether the cock begins to crow at his usual hour? My friend has answered me, that his poultry are as regular as ever, and that all the birds and the beasts of his neighbourhood keep the same hours that they have observed in the memory of man; and the same which, in all probability, they have kept for these five thousand years. If you would see the innovations that have been made among us in this particular, you may only look




into the hours of colleges, where they still dine at eleven, and sup at six, which were doubtless the hours of the whole nation at the time when those places were founded. But at present the courts of justice are scarce opened in Westminster-hall at the time when William Rufus used to go to dinner in it. All business is driven forward. The land-marks of our fathers, if I may so call them, are removed, and planted further up into the day; insomuch that I am afraid our clergy will be obliged, if they expect full congregations, not to look any more upon ten o'clock in the morning as a canonical hour. In my own memory the dinner has crept by degrees from twelve o'clock to three, and where it will fix nobody knows *.

I have sometimes thought to draw up a memorial in the behalf of Supper against Dinner, setting forth, that the said Dinner has made several encroachments upon the said Supper, and entered very far upon his fron

*Ten o'clock continued to be the dining-hour in the University of Cambridge in the reign of Edward the VIth. About the middle of queen Elizabeth's reign, William Harrison, in his Description prefixed to Holingshed's Chronicle, thus describes the hours: "With us the nobility and gentry and students do ordinarilie go to dinner at eleven before noone, and to supper at five, or between five and six at afternoone. The merchants dine and sup seldom before twelve at noone, and six at night, especiallie in London. The husbandmen also dine at high noone, as they call it, and sup at seven or eight. Froissart called on the duke of Lancaster after supper, at five in the evening. Lady Margaret countess of Richmond, in 1500, dined at ten, except on fast-days, when she refrained till eleven." It appears from this that the mercantile world, and not the gentry, have been the cause from the beginning, as they certainly are now, of the reces

sion of the dinner hour.

iers; that he has banished him out of several families, and.in all has driven him from his head quarters, and forced him to make his retreat into the hours of midnight; and, in short, that he is now in danger of being entirely confounded and lost in a breakfast. Those who have read Lucian, and seen the complaints of the letter T against S, upon account of many injuries and usurpations of the same nature, will not, I believe, think such a memorial forced and unnatural. If dinner has been thus postponed, or, if you please, kept back from time to time, you may be sure that it has been in compliance with the other business of the day, and that supper has still observed a proportionable distance. There is a venerable proverb, which we have all of us heard in our infancy, of putting the children to bed, and laying the goose to the fire.' This was one of the jocular sayings of our forefathers, but may be properly used in the literal sense at present. Who would not wonder at this perverted relish of those who are reckoned the most polite part of mankind, that prefer seacoals and candles to the sun, and exchange so many cheerful morning hours for the pleasures of midnight revels and debauches? If a man was only to consult his health, he would choose to live his whole time, if possible, in day-light; and to retire out of the world into silence and sleep, while the raw damps and unwholesome vapours fly abroad without a sun to disperse, moderate, or control them. For my own part, I value an hour in the morning as much as common libertines do an hour at midnight. When I find myself awakened into being, and perceive my life renewed within me, and at the same time see the whole face of nature recovered out of the dark uncomfortable state inwhich it lay for several hours, my heart overflows with

[blocks in formation]

such secret sentiments of joy and gratitude, as are a kind of implicit praise to the great Author of nature. The mind in these early seasons of the day is so refreshed in all its faculties, and borne up with such new supplies of animal spirits, that she finds herself in a state of youth, especially when she is entertained with the breath of flowers, the melody of birds, the dews that hang upon the plants, and all those other sweets of nature that are peculiar to the morning.

It is impossible for a man to have this relish of being, this exquisite taste of life, who does not come into the world before it is in all its noise and hurry; who loses the rising of the sun, the still hours of the day, and immediately upon his first getting up plunges himself into the ordinary cares or follies of the world.



No. 265.

Continuation of the Journal of the Court of Honour,


As soon as the court was sat, the ladies of the bench presented, according to order, a table of all the laws now in force relating to visits and visiting-days, me thodically digested under their respective heads, which the Censor ordered to be laid upon the table, and afterwards proceeded upon the business of the day.

Henry Heedless, esquire, was indicted by colonel Touchy, of her majesty's trained bands, upon an action of assault and battery; for that he the said Mr. Heedless, having espied a feather upon the shoulder of the said colonel, struck it off gently with the end of a walking-staff, value three-pence. It appeared that the


« ПредишнаНапред »