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this has a thought in it worth being communicated to your readers.
When I have been present in assemblies where my paper has been talked of, I have been very well pleased to hear those who would detract from the author of it observe, that the letters which are sent to the Spectator, are as good, if not better than any of his works. Upon this occasion, many letters of mirth are usually mentioned, which some think the Spectator writ to himself, and which others commend because they fancy he received them from his correspondents : such are those from the Valetudinarian ; the Inspector of the Sign-posts; the Master of the Fan-exercise; with that of the Hooped-petticoat: that of Nicholas Hart, the Annual Sleeper; that of Sir John Envill; that upon the London Cries; with multitudes of the same nature. As I love nothing more than to mortify the ill-natured, that I may
do it effectually, I must acquaint them, they have very often praised me when they did not design it, and that they have approved my writings, when they thought they had derogated from them. I have heard several of these unhappy gentlemen proving, by undeniable arguments, that I was not able to pen a letter which I had written the day before. Nay, I have heard some of them throwing out ambiguous expressions, and giving the company reason to suspect that they themselves did me the honour to send me such and such a particular epistle, which happened to be talked of with the esteem or approbation of those who were present. These rigid critics are so afraid of allowing me any thing which does not belong to me, that they will not be positive whether the lion, the wild boar, and the flower pots in the playhouse, did not actually write those letters which came to me in their names. I must, therefore, inform these gentlemen, that I often chuse this way of casting my thoughts into a letter, for the following reasons : first, out of the policy of those who try their jest upon another, before they own it themselves. Secondly, because I would extort a little praise from such who will never applaud any thing whose author is known and certain. Thirdly, because it gave me an opportunity of introducing a great variety of characters into my work, which could not have been done, had I always written in the person of the Spectator. Fourthly, because the dignity spectatorial would have suffered, had I published, as from myself, those several ludicrous compositions which I have ascribed to fictitious names and characters. And lastly, because they often serve to bring in, more naturally, such additional reflections as have been placed at the end of them.
There are others, who have likewise done me a very particular honour, though undesignedly. These are such who will needs have it, that I have translated or borrowed many of my thoughts
out of books which are written in other languages. I have heard of a person, who is more famous for his library than his learning, that has asserted this more than once in his private conversation.' Were it true, I am sure he could not speak .t from his own knowledge ; but had he read the books which he has collected, he would find this accusation to be wholly groundless. Those who are truly learned will acquit me on this point, in which I have been so far from offending, that I have been scru pulous, perhaps to a fault, in quoting the authors of several passages, which I might have made my own. But as this assertion is, in reality, an encomium on what I have published, I ought rather to glory in it, than endeavour to confute it.
Some are so very willing to alienate from me that small reputation which might accrue to me from any of my speculations, that they attribute some of the best of them to those imaginary manuscripts with which I have introduced them. There are others, I must confess, whose objections have given me a greater concern, as they seem to reflect, under this head, rather on my morality than on my invention. These are they who say an author. is guilty of falsehood, when he talks to the public of manuscripts which he never saw, or describes scenes of action or discourse in which he was never engaged. But these gentlemen would do well to consider, there is not a fable or parable which ever was made use of, that is not liable to this exception; since nothing, according to this notion, can be related innocently, which was not once matter of fact. Besides, I think the most ordinary reader may be able to discover, by my way of writing, what I deliver in these occurrences as truth, and what as fic. tion.
Since I am unawares engaged in answering the several objec
Supposed to be Mr. Thomas Rawlinson, the Tom Folios of the Tatler, No. 158.-G.