« السابقةمتابعة »
Ω πάι σιώπα. πόλλ' έχει σιγή καλά.
Hold thy tongue, good boy! There are many great advan
tages in keeping silence.
I HAVE now the satisfaction to inform my country. men, that after long and diligent search I have at last discovered a very extraordinary person in this metropolis, at present in some obscurity, but if I shall luckily be the means of drawing him into more notice by publishing what has come to my know. ledge of his talents and performances, I shall think myself happy not only in serving a meritorious individual, but also in furnishing a suggestion through the mode I shall recommend for his employ, that may be of the greatest benefit to society. . · The gentleman, in whose favour I would fain: interest my candid readers, is Mr. Jedediah Fish, of whose history I shall recount a few particulars. He was bred to the law, and many years ago went over to New England, where he practised in the courts at Boston: upon the breaking out of the troubles he came over to England, though from his prudent deportment he might safely have remained where he was, for Mr. Fish made it a rule never to lend any thing but an ear to either side of the ques. tion : I cannot speak with certainty as to his real motives for leaving America, as he has not been communicative on that head, but I could collect
from hints he has dropt of the extraordinary length and protraction of the pleadings in those provincial courts, that his health was a good deal impaired by his attendance upon causes, though I cannot discover that he was actually employed as an advocate in any. This may seem singular to such as are unacquainted with those proceedings, but Mr. Fish, though no pleader, was of indispensible use to his clients during the somnolency of the court ; for by means of his vigilance the efficient counsel could indulge themselves in their natural rest, and recruit their spirits for a reciprocal exertion of prolixity, when the opposite party had come to a conclusion : this happy faculty of wakefulness in Mr. Jedediah Fish was accompanied with the further very useful talent of abridgment, by which in a very few words he could convey into the ear of a pleader, when he had once thoroughly wakened him, the whole marrow of an argument, though it had been spread out ever so widely.
When he came over to his native country, he threw himself in the way of preferment, and regu. larly attended the sittings at Westminster, Guild. hall, and elsewhere ; but being a modest man, and one who made no acquaintance, he was no otherwise taken notice of, than as being the only person in court, who did not yawn, when a certain learned serjeant got beyond his usualquota of cases in point. Nothing offering here, Mr. Fish presented himself during the sitting of Parliament both at the bar of the Peers, and in the gallery of the House of Commons : he gave great attention to the clerks, when they were reading Acts of Parliament in the upper house, and never quitted his post in the lower, when certain gentlemen were on their legs, and gave the signal to others to get on theirs and go to dinner: By being thus left alone this modest attendant lost
his labour, and remained unnoticed through a whole session.
Defeated in all these efforts he began to frequent coffee-houses, where he observed most talking prevail, and few or no hearers to be found : fortune now began to smile upon his patient endeavours, and he particularly recommended himself to a circle at Saint Paul's, where by his address in posting himself between two parties, one of which was very circumstantially explaining a will, and the other going step by step through a bill of inclosure, where the glebe lands of the rector were in great peril of infringement, he so contrived as to lend one ear to the divine and the other to the civilian, by which he got a dinner at each of their houses ; and as they found him a most agreeable companion, and one whose cheering smile enlivened their own con. versation, he soon became free of their families un. der a standing invitation.
It was in one of these houses I first became ac. quainted with Mr. Fish, and as it seemed to me a great pity that a man possessed of such companion. able talents (for I can safely aver I had never heard the tone of his voice) should be any longer buried in obscurity, or at best confined to a narrow circle of admirers, I began to reflect within myself what amazing improvements society might receive, if he could be induced to stand forth in the public character of a Master of Silence, or in other words a Teacher of the Art of Hearing.
As I knew my friend was not a man to speak for himself, I took a convenient occasion one day of breaking niy proposal to him, which I introduced by saying I had something to disclose to him, which I conceived would not only be of public benefit, but might also bcturned to his particular emolument and advantage. He paused some time, and seemed to
expect when I would proceed to explain myself; but being at last convinced that I was reaily waiting for his consent, he opened his lips for the first time, and in a very soft agreeable tone of voice delivered himself as follows- Suy on! - The conversation being now fairly on foot, I said that experience must have convinced him how great a scarcity of hearers there were in this metropolis, at the same time what great request they were in, and how much conversation and society were at a loss for a proper pro. portion of them : that where one man now made his fortune by his tongue, hundreds might in less time establish their's by a prudent use of their ears : that a desire of shining in company was now become so general, that there was no body left to shine upon : that no way could be so sure of providing for younger sons and people of small fortunes, as to
qualify them well in the art of hearing; but by a · fatal neglect in our system of education, and the
loquacity of nurses and servants, no attention was paid to this useful accomplishment: I observed to him that our parsons were in some degree in the fault, by shortening their sermons and quickening their prayers, whereas in times past, when homilies were in use, and the preacher turned the hour-glass twice or thrice before his discourse was wound up, the world was in better habits of hearing : that in Oliver's days the grace was oftentimes as long as the meal, now they sate down without any grace at all, and talked without ceasing : that the disconti. nuance of smoking tobacco contributed much to put hearing out of fashion, and that a club of people now was like a pack of hounds in full cry, where all puppies open at the same time, whether they have got the scent or not: In conclusion, I demanded of him if he agreed with me in these observations, or not: he again took some time to consider, and very civilly replied I do.'_ If you do agree with me,' rejoined I, in acknowledging the complaint, tell me if you will concur in promoting the cure. He nodded assent, and who is so fit as Mr. Jedediah Fish,' added I, 'to teach that art to others, which he possesses in such perfection himself? It shall be my business to seek out for scholars, your's to instruct them, and I don't despair of your estab. lishing an Academy of Silence in as general repute as the school of Pythagoras.'
This institution is now fairly on foot, and school is opened in Magpye-court, Cheapside, No 4, name on the door, where the professor is to be spoken to by all persons wanting his advice and instructions. The remarkable success which has already attended Mr. Jedediah Fish, would warrant my laying be fore the public somc extraordinary cures, but these I shall postpone to some future opportunity, and conclude with a passage from Horace, which shews that ingenious poet, though perhaps he had as much to say for himself as most of our modern prattlers, was nevertheless a perfect adept in the art, which it has been the labour of this paper to recommend.
Septimus octavo proprior jam fugerit aunus,
6 Tis (let me see) three years and more,