Confession of an Eighteenth-Century Quidnunc; or, How was I to know your sister had died?

” Living out of the World”
To the PRINTER.

Sir,
ABOUT two month ago I went to the country to pay a visit to a friend in a remote county; and though I am much of what may be called “a newspaper man,” I never thought of ordering my papers to be sent down to me. To my utter astonishment, my rusticlandlord did not take in own newspaper; so there was I, stuck down, with my friend in the country–knowing no more of what passed in town than if I had been in Lapland. Intending every day should be my last, I went on without ordering your, or any other paper, till two months had passed away, at which period I returned to town. And there, Sir, I was quite a new man, and just as if I had dropped down from the clouds. Every day I heard people talking of occurrences of which I knew nothing : Revolutions in France by Fishwomen ; and battles in Flanders, against the Emperor, who I thought was fighting against the Turks.

But even this was not the most distressing–for one day meeting a friend, I inquired very cordially after his wife, who I found a few days afterwards, had eloped just before with another gentleman ; and meeting with a lady, I inquired kindly for her sister, who I found had departed to the other world a fortnight before.

On this account I never will stir again “out of the world” unless your paper goes along with me. I hold a newspaper to be a kind of viaticum with which every man should be provided, and which become the more necessary the further we remove from town It. is the only way to keep pace with what is going on every day in the fashionable or literary world–and to prevent talking about dead friends, or wives that have absconded.

In short, Sir, a newspaper is my creed–and never will I again travel without my faith along with me : having fully experienced the unpleasantness of being sent back into the world as ignorant as if I had been born again–I hereby give notice–” That if an hottentot friend of mine invites me, who does not take in your paper or some other–I will not visit him.” DICK DESPERATE.

–Glasgow Advertiser, 14 December 1789

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *