Quicquid agunt Homines nostri Farrago Libelli
"All the doings of mankind shall form the motley subject of my page."
[In the original folio half-sheet edition, this motto was used continuously throughout the first forty numbers.]
Though the other Papers which are published for the Use of the good People of ENGLAND have certainly very wholesome Effects, and are laudable in their particular Kinds, they do not seem to come up to the main Design of such Narrations, which, I humbly presume, should be principally intended for the Use of Politick Persons, who are so publick-spirited as to neglect their own Affairs to look into Transactions of State. Now these Gentlemen, for the most Part, being Persons of strong Zeal and weak Intellects, It is both a Charitable and Necessary Work to offer something, whereby such worthy and well-affected Members of the Commonwealth may be instructed, after their Reading, WHAT TO THINK: Which shall be the End and Purpose of this my Paper, wherein I shall from Time to Time Report and Consider all Matters of what Kind so ever that shall occur to Me, and publish such my Advices and Reflections every TUESDAY, THURSDAY, and SATURDAY, in the Week, for the Convenience of the Post. I resolve also to have something which may be of Entertainment to the Fair Sex, in Honour of whom I have invented the Title of this Paper. I therefore earnestly desire all Persons, without Distinction, to take it in for the present GRATIS, and hereafter at the Price of one Penny, forbidding all Hawkers to take more for it at their Peril. And I desire all Persons to consider, that I am at a very great Charge for proper Materials for this Work, as well as that before I resolved upon it I had settled a Correspondence in all Parts of the Known and Knowing World. And forasmuch as this Globe is not trodden upon by mere Drudges of Business only, but that Men of Spirit and Genius are justly to be esteemed as considerable Agents in it, we shall not upon a Dearth of News present you with musty Foreign Edicts, or dull Proclamations, but shall divide our Relation of the Passages which occur in Action or Discourse throughout this Town, as well as elsewhere, under such Dates of Places as may prepare you for the Matter you are to expect, in the following Manner:
All Accounts of GALLANTRY, PLEASURE, and ENTERTAINMENT, shall be under the Article of WHITE'S CHOCOLATE-HOUSE: POETRY, under that of WILL'S COFFEE-HOUSE; LEARNING under the Title of GRÆCIAN: FOREIGN and DOMESTICK NEWS, you will have from ST. JAMES'S COFFEE-HOUSE; and what else I have to offer on any other Subject, shall be dated from my own APARTMENT.
I once more desire my Reader to consider, That as I cannot keep an Ingenious Man to go daily to WILL'S, under Twopence each Day merely for his Charges; to WHITE'S, under Sixpence; nor to the GRÆCIAN, without allowing him some Plain SPANISH, to be as able as others at the Learned Table, and that a good Observer cannot speak with even KIDNEY at St.James's without clean Linen: I say, these Considerations will, I hope, make all Persons willing to comply with my Humble Request (when my GRATIS Stock is exhausted) of a Penny a Piece; especially since they are sure of some Proper Amusement, and that it is impossible for me to want Means to entertain 'em, having, besides the Force of my own Parts, the Power of Divination, and that I can, by casting a Figure, tell you all that will happen before it comes to pass.
But this last Faculty I shall use very sparingly, and speak but of few Things 'till they are passed, for fear of divulging Matters which may offend our Superiors.