The Letter mentioned in my last Paper is as follows.
'You have so lately decryed that Custom, too much in use among most People, of making themselves the Subjects of their Writings and Conversation, that I had some difficulty to perswade my self to give you this Trouble, till I had considered that tho' I should speak in the First Person, yet I could not be justly charged with Vanity, since I shall not add my Name; as also, because what I shall write will not, to say the best, redound to my Praise; but is only designed to remove a Prejudice conceived against me, as I hope, with very little Foundation. My short History is this.
I have lived for some Years last past altogether in London, till about a Month ago an Acquaintance of mine, for whom I have done some small Services in Town, invited me to pass part of the Summer with him at his House in the Country. I accepted his Invitation, and found a very hearty Welcome. My Friend, an honest plain Man, not being qualified to pass away his Time without the Reliefs of Business, has grafted the Farmer upon the Gentleman, and brought himself to submit even to the servile Parts of that Employment, such as inspecting his Plough, and the like. This necessarily takes up some of his Hours every Day; and as I have no Relish for such Diversions, I used at these Times to retire either to my Chamber, or a shady Walk near the House, and entertain my self with some agreeable Author. Now you must know, Mr. SPECTATOR, that when I read, especially if it be Poetry, it is very usual with me, when I meet with any Passage or Expression which strikes me much, to pronounce it aloud, with that Tone of the Voice which I think agreeable to the Sentiments there expressed; and to this I generally add some Motion or Action of the Body. It was not long before I was observed by some of the Family in one of these heroick Fits, who thereupon received Impressions very much to my Disadvantage. This however I did not soon discover, nor should have done probably, had it not been for the following Accident. I had one Day shut my self up in my Chamber, and was very deeply engaged in the Second Book of Milton's Paradise Lost. I walked to and fro with the Book in my Hand, and, to speak the Truth, I fear I made no little Noise; when presently coming to the following Lines,
'--On a sudden open fly,
With impetuous Recoil and jarring Sound,
Th' infernal Doors, and on their Hinges grate
Harsh Thunder, &c.'
'I in great Transport threw open the Door of my Chamber, and found the greatest Part of the Family standing on the Out-side in a very great Consternation. I was in no less Confusion, and begged Pardon for having disturbed them; addressing my self particularly to comfort one of the Children, who received an unlucky fall in this Action, whilst he was too intently surveying my Meditations through the Key-hole. To be short, after this Adventure I easily observed that great Part of the Family, especially the Women and Children, looked upon me with some Apprehensions of Fear; and my Friend himself, tho' he still continued his Civilities to me, did not seem altogether easie: I took Notice, that the Butler was never after this Accident ordered to leave the Bottle upon the Table after Dinner. Add to this, that I frequently overheard the Servants mention me by the Name of the crazed Gentleman, the Gentleman a little touched, the mad Londoner, and the like. This made me think it high Time for me to shift my Quarters, which I resolved to do the first handsome Opportunity; and was confirmed in this Resolution by a young Lady in the Neighbourhood who frequently visited us, and who one Day, after having heard all the fine Things I was able to say, was pleased with a scornful Smile to bid me go to sleep.
'The first Minute I got to my Lodgings in Town I set Pen to Paper to desire your Opinion, whether, upon the Evidence before you, I am mad or not. I can bring Certificates that I behave my self soberly before Company, and I hope there is at least some Merit in withdrawing to be mad. Look you, Sir, I am contented to be esteemed a little touched, as they phrase it, but should be sorry to be madder than my Neighbours; therefore, pray let me be as much in my Senses as you can afford. I know I could bring your self as an Instance of a Man who has confessed talking to himself; but yours is a particular Case, and cannot justify me, who have not kept Silence any Part of my Life. What if I should own my self in Love? You know Lovers are always allowed the Comfort of Soliloquy.--But I will say no more upon this Subject, because I have long since observed, the ready Way to be thought Mad is to contend that you are not so; as we generally conclude that Man drunk, who takes Pains to be thought sober. I will therefore leave my self to your Determination; but am the more desirous to be thought in my Senses, that it may be no Discredit to you when I assure you that I have always been very much
P.S. _If I must be mad, I desire the young Lady may believe it is for her.
The humble Petition of_ John a Nokes and John a Stiles, Sheweth,
'That your Petitioners have had Causes depending in Westminster-Hall above five hundred Years, and that we despair of ever seeing them brought to an Issue: That your Petitioners have not been involved in these Law Suits, out of any litigious Temper of their own, but by the Instigation of contentious Persons; that the young Lawyers in our Inns of Court are continually setting us together by the Ears, and think they do us no Hurt, because they plead for us without a Fee; That many of the Gentlemen of the Robe have no other Clients in the World besides us two; That when they have nothing else to do, they make us Plaintiffs and Defendants, tho' they were never retained by either of us; That they traduce, condemn, or acquit us, without any manner of Regard to our Reputations and good Names in the World. Your Petitioners therefore (being thereunto encouraged by the favourable Reception which you lately gave to our Kinsman Blank) do humbly pray, that you will put an End to the Controversies which have been so long depending between us your said Petitioners, and that our Enmity may not endure from Generation to Generation; it being our Resolution to live hereafter as it becometh Men of peaceable Dispositions.
And your Petitioners (as in Duty bound) shall ever Pray, &c.Translation of motto: