No. 260. Friday, December 28, 1711. Steele.

Singula de nobis anni prædantur euntes.


I am now in the Sixty fifth Year of my Age, and having been the greater Part of my Days a Man of Pleasure, the Decay of my Faculties is a Stagnation of my Life. But how is it, Sir, that my Appetites are increased upon me with the Loss of Power to gratify them? I write this, like a Criminal, to warn People to enter upon what Reformation they may please to make in themselves in their Youth, and not expect they shall be capable of it from a fond Opinion some have often in their Mouths, that if we do not leave our Desires they will leave us. It is far otherwise; I am now as vain in my Dress, and as flippant if I see a pretty Woman, as when in my Youth I stood upon a Bench in the Pit to survey the whole Circle of Beauties. The Folly is so extravagant with me, and I went on with so little Check of my Desires, or Resignation of them, that I can assure you, I very often meerly to entertain my own Thoughts, sit with my Spectacles on, writing Love-Letters to the Beauties that have been long since in their Graves. This is to warm my Heart with the faint Memory of Delights which were once agreeable to me; but how much happier would my Life have been now, if I could have looked back on any worthy Action done for my Country? If I had laid out that which I profused in Luxury and Wantonness, in Acts of Generosity or Charity? I have lived a Batchelor to this Day; and instead of a numerous Offspring, with which, in the regular Ways of Life, I might possibly have delighted my self, I have only to amuse my self with the Repetition of Old Stories and Intrigues which no one will believe I ever was concerned in. I do not know whether you have ever treated of it or not; but you cannot fall on a better Subject, than that of the Art of growing old. In such a Lecture you must propose, that no one set his Heart upon what is transient; the Beauty grows wrinkled while we are yet gazing at her. The witty Man sinks into a Humourist imperceptibly, for want of reflecting that all Things around him are in a Flux, and continually changing: Thus he is in the Space of ten or fifteen Years surrounded by a new Set of People whose Manners are as natural to them as his Delights, Method of Thinking, and Mode of Living, were formerly to him and his Friends. But the Mischief is, he looks upon the same kind of Errors which he himself was guilty of with an Eye of Scorn, and with that sort of Ill-will which Men entertain against each other for different Opinions: Thus a crasie Constitution, and an uneasie Mind is fretted with vexatious Passions for young Mens doing foolishly what it is Folly to do at all. Dear Sir, this is my present State of Mind; I hate those I should laugh at, and envy those I contemn. The Time of Youth and vigorous Manhood passed the Way in which I have disposed of it, is attended with these Consequences; but to those who live and pass away Life as they ought, all Parts of it are equally pleasant; only the Memory of good and worthy Actions is a Feast which must give a quicker Relish to the Soul than ever it could possibly taste in the highest Enjoyments or Jollities of Youth. As for me, if I sit down in my great Chair and begin to ponder, the Vagaries of a Child are not more ridiculous than the Circumstances which are heaped up in my Memory. Fine Gowns, Country Dances, Ends of Tunes, interrupted Conversations, and midnight Quarrels, are what must necessarily compose my Soliloquy. I beg of you to print this, that some Ladies of my Acquaintance, and my Years, may be perswaded to wear warm Night-caps this cold Season: and that my old Friend Jack Tawdery may buy him a Cane, and not creep with the Air of a Strut. I must add to all this, that if it were not for one Pleasure, which I thought a very mean one till of very late Years, I should have no one great Satisfaction left; but if I live to the 10th of March, 1714, and all my Securities are good, I shall be worth Fifty thousand Pound.

I am, SIR, Your most humble Servant, Jack Afterday.


You will infinitely oblige a distressed Lover, if you will insert in your very next Paper, the following Letter to my Mistress. You must know, I am not a Person apt to despair, but she has got an odd Humour of stopping short unaccountably, and, as she her self told a Confident of hers, she has cold Fits. These Fits shall last her a Month or six Weeks together; and as she falls into them without Provocation, so it is to be hoped she will return from them without the Merit of new Services. But Life and Love will not admit of such Intervals, therefore pray let her be admonished as follows.

I Love you, and I honour you: therefore pray do not tell me of
waiting till Decencies, till Forms, till Humours are consulted and
gratified. If you have that happy Constitution as to be indolent for
ten Weeks together, you should consider that all that while I burn
in Impatiences and Fevers; but still you say it will be Time enough,
tho I and you too grow older while we are yet talking. Which do you
think the more reasonable, that you should alter a State of
Indifference for Happiness, and that to oblige me, or I live in
Torment, and that to lay no Manner of Obligation upon you? While I
indulge your Insensibility I am doing nothing; if you favour my
Passion, you are bestowing bright Desires, gay Hopes, generous
Cares, noble Resolutions and transporting Raptures upon, _Madam,_
_Your most devoted humble Servant._


Here's a Gentlewoman lodges in the same House with me, that I never did any Injury to in my whole Life; and she is always railing at me to those that she knows will tell me of it. Don't you think she is in Love with me? or would you have me break my Mind yet or not? Your Servant, T. B.


I am a Footman in a great Family, and am in Love with the House-maid. We were all at Hot-cockles last Night in the Hall these Holidays; when I lay down and was blinded, she pulled off her Shoe, and hit me with the Heel such a Rap, as almost broke my Head to Pieces. Pray, Sir, was this Love or Spite?


Translation of motto:
HOR. 3 Ep. ii. 55.
'Years following years steal something every day,
At last they steal us from ourselves away.'