Item of the Day: Noah Webster’s The Prompter (1796)

Full Title:

The Prompter: Or, A Commentary on Common Sayings and Subjects; Which are Full of Common Sense, The Best Sense in the World. “To see all others’ faults and feel our own.”

Printed in Philadelphia by Matthew Carey, 1796.
Number XIX

When a man is going down hill, every one gives him a kick.

This, it is said, is very natural; that is, it is very common. There are two reasons for this — First, it is much easier to kick a man down hill, than to push him up hill — Second, men love to see every body at the bottom of the hill but themselves.

Different men have different ways of climbing into ranks and office. Some bold fellows take a run and mount at two or three strides. Others of less vigour use more art — they creep along upon their bellies, catching hold of the cliffs and twigs to pull themselves up — sometimes they meet a high rock and are obliged to crawl round it — at other times they catch hold of a prominent cliff or a little twig, which gives way and back they tumble, scratching their clothes and sometimes their skin. However it is, very few will lift their neighbours — unless to get a lift themselves. Yet sometimes one of those crawlers will lend a hand to their neighbouring crawlers — affect to pull hard to raise them all a little — then getting upon their shoulders, give a leap to an eminence and leave them all in the lurch, or kick them over. The moment one begins to tumble, every one who is near hits him a kick.

But no people get so many kicks as poor debtors in failing circumstances. While a man is dong very well, that is, while his credit is good, every one helps him — the moment he is pressed for money, however honest and able he may be, he gets kicks from all quarters His friends and his reputation desert him with the loss of his purse, and he soon tumbles to the bottom of the hill.

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Filed under 1790's, Language, Posted by Rebecca Dresser

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