I had the Misfortune to be an Uncle before I knew my Nephews from my Nieces, and now we are grown up to better Acquaintance they deny me the Respect they owe. One upbraids me with being their Familiar, another will hardly be perswaded that I am an Uncle, a third calls me Little Uncle, and a fourth tells me there is no Duty at all due to an Uncle. I have a Brother-in-law whose Son will win all my Affection, unless you shall think this worthy of your Cognizance, and will be pleased to prescribe some Rules for our future reciprocal Behaviour. It will be worthy the Particularity of your Genius to lay down Rules for his Conduct who was as it were born an old Man, in which you will much oblige,
Your most obedient Servant,
[Footnote 1: No motto in the first issue.]
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No. 403. Thursday, June 12, 1712. Addison
‘Qui mores hominun multorum vidit?’
When I consider this great City in its several Quarters and Divisions, I look upon it as an Aggregate of various Nations distinguished from each other by their respective Customs, Manners and Interests. The Courts of two Countries do not so much differ from one another, as the Court and City in their peculiar Ways of Life and Conversation. In short, the Inhabitants of St. James’s, notwithstanding they live under the same Laws, and speak the same Language, are a distinct People from those of Cheapside, who are likewise removed from those of the Temple on the one side, and those of Smithfield on the other, by several Climates and Degrees in their way of Thinking and Conversing together.
For this Reason, when any publick Affair is upon the Anvil, I love to hear the Reflections that arise upon it in the several Districts and Parishes of London and Westminster, and to ramble up and down a whole Day together, in order to make my self acquainted with the Opinions of my Ingenious Countrymen. By this means I know the Faces of all the principal Politicians within the Bills of Mortality; and as every Coffee-house has some particular Statesman belonging to it, who is the Mouth of the Street where he lives, I always take care to place my self near him, in order to know his Judgment on the present Posture of Affairs. The last Progress that I made with this Intention, was about three Months ago, when we had a current Report of the King of France’s Death. As I foresaw this would produce a new Face of things in Europe, and many curious Speculations in our British Coffee-houses, I was very desirous to learn the Thoughts of our most eminent Politicians on that Occasion.