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Idler 078 [No. 78: Steady, Snug, Startle, Solid and Misty]
by [?]

Dick Snug is a man of sly remark and pithy sententiousness: he never immerges himself in the stream of conversation, but lies to catch his companions in the eddy: he is often very successful in breaking narratives and confounding eloquence. A gentleman, giving the history of one of his acquaintance, made mention of a lady that had many lovers: “Then,” said Dick, “she was either handsome or rich.” This observation being well received, Dick watched the progress of the tale; and, hearing of a man lost in a shipwreck, remarked, that “no man was ever drowned upon dry land.”

Will Startle is a man of exquisite sensibility, whose delicacy of frame and quickness of discernment subject him to impressions from the slightest causes; and who, therefore, passes his life between rapture and horrour, in quiverings of delight, or convulsions of disgust. His emotions are too violent for many words; his thoughts are always discovered by exclamations. Vile, odious, horrid, detestable, and sweet, charming, delightful, astonishing, compose almost his whole vocabulary, which he utters with various contortions and gesticulations, not easily related or described.

Jack Solid is a man of much reading, who utters nothing but quotations; but having been, I suppose, too confident of his memory, he has for some time neglected his books, and his stock grows every day more scanty.

Mr. Solid has found an opportunity every night to repeat, from Hudibras,

Doubtless the pleasure is as great
Of being cheated, as to cheat;

and from Waller,

Poets lose half the praise they would have got,
Were it but known what they discreetly blot.

Dick Misty is a man of deep research, and forcible penetration. Others are content with superficial appearances; but Dick holds, that there is no effect without a cause, and values himself upon his power of explaining the difficult and displaying the abstruse. Upon a dispute among us, which of two young strangers was more beautiful, “You,” says Mr. Misty, turning to me, “like Amaranthia better than Chloris. I do not wonder at the preference, for the cause is evident: there is in man a perception of harmony, and a sensibility of perfection, which touches the finer fibres of the mental texture; and before reason can descend from her throne, to pass her sentence upon the things compared, drives us towards the object proportioned to our faculties, by an impulse gentle, yet irresistible; for the harmonick system of the Universe, and the reciprocal magnetism of similar natures, are always operating towards conformity and union; nor can the powers of the soul cease from agitation, till they find something on which they can repose.” To this nothing was opposed; and Amaranthia was acknowledged to excel Chloris.

Of the rest you may expect an account from,

Sir, yours,