THE KEYS OF ALL THE CREEDS

It is an endless and frivolous pursuit to act by any other rule, than the care of satisfying our own minds in what we do. One would think a silent man, who concerned himself with no one breathing, should be very liable to misinterpretation and yet I remember I was once taken up for a Jesuit, for no other reason but my profound taciturnity.

It is from this misfortune, to be out of harm’s way, I have ever since affected crowds. He who comes into assemblies only to gratify his curiosity, and not to make a figure, enjoys the pleasure of retirement in a more exquisite degree, than he possibly could in his closet; the lover, the ambitious and the miser are followed thither by a worse crowd than any they can withdraw from.

There are so many gratifications attend this public sort of obscurity, that some little distastes I daily receive have lost their anguish.

It is remarkable, that those who want any one sense, possess the others with greater force and vivacity. Thus my want of, or rather resignation of speech, gives me all the advantage of a dumb man.

Those who converse with the dumb, know from the turn of their eyes and the changes of their countenance their sentiments of the objects before them. I have indulged my silence to such an extravagance, that the few who are intimate with me, answer my smiles with concurrent sentences and argue to the very point I shook my head at, without my speaking.

Thus the working of my own mind, is the general entertainment of my life; I never enter into the commerce of discourse with any but my particular friends, and not in public even with them.

This and all other matters loosely hinted at now and in my former papers, shall have their proper place in my following discourses: the present writing is only to admonish the world, that they shall not find me an idle but a very busy spectator.

RICHARD STEELE 1711