The desire of communicating knowledge or intelligence, is an argument with those who hold that man is naturally a social animal. It is indeed one of the earliest propensities we discover; but it may be doubted whether the pleasure (for pleasure there certainly is) arising from it be not often more selfish than social: for we frequently observe the tidings of Ill communicated as eagerly as the annunciation of Good. Is it that we delight in observing the effects of the stronger passions? for we are all philosophers in this respect; and it is perhaps amongst the spectators at Tyburn that the most genuine are to be found.
Was it from this motive that Peter came one morning into his master’s room with a meaning face of recital? His master indeed did not at first observe it; for he was sitting with one shoe buckled, delineating portraits in the fire. “I have brushed those clothes, sir, as you ordered me.”—Harley nodded his head but Peter observed that his hat wanted brushing too: his master nodded again. At last Peter bethought him that the fire needed stirring; and taking up the poker, demolished the turban’d head of a Saracen, while his master was seeking out a body for it. “The morning is main cold, sir,” said Peter. “Is it?” said Harley. “Yes, sir; I have been as far as Tom Dowson’s to fetch some barberries he had picked for Mrs. Margery. There was a rare junketting last night at Thomas’s among Sir Harry Benson’s servants; he lay at Squire Walton’s, but he would not suffer his servants to trouble the family: so, to be sure, they were all at Tom’s, and had a fiddle, and a hot supper in the big room where the justices meet about the destroying of hares and partridges, and them things; and Tom’s eyes looked so red and so bleared when I called him to get the barberries:- And I hear as how Sir Harry is going to be married to Miss Walton.”—“How! Miss Walton married!” said Harley. “Why, it mayn’t be true, sir, for all that; but Tom’s wife told it me, and to be sure the servants told her, and their master told them, as I guess, sir; but it mayn’t be true for all that, as I said before.”—“Have done with your idle information,” said Harley:- “Is my aunt come down into the parlour to breakfast?”—“Yes, sir.”—“Tell her I’ll be with her immediately.”