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death. Murders and executions are always before he would despatch him, and by ortransacted behind the scenes in the French dering him to retire into that part of the theatre; which in general is very agree- palace where he had slain his father, able to the manners of a polite and civilized whose murder he would revenge in the people: but as there are no exceptions to very same place where it was committed. This rule on the French stage, it leads them By this means the poet observes that deinto absurdities almost as ridiculous as that cency, which Horace afterwards establishwhich falls under our present censure. Ied by a rule, of forbearing to commit parremember in the famous play of Corneille, ricides or unnatural murders before the written upon the subject of the Horatii audience. and Curiatii; the fierce young hero who "Nec pueros coram populo Medea trucidet.' had overcome the Curiatii one after ano
Ars Poet. ver. 185. ther, (instead of being congratulated by his Let not Medea draw her murd'ring knife, sister for his victory, being upbraided by And spill her children's blood upon the stage.' her for having slain her lover) in the height
Roscommon. of his passion and resentment kills her. If
The French have, therefore, refined too any thing could extenuate so brutal an ac- much upon Horace's rule, who never detion, it would be the doing of it on a sudden, signed to banish all kinds of death from the before the sentiments of nature, reason, or stage: but only such as had too much hormanhood could take place in him. How-ror in them, and which would have a better ever, to avoid public bloodshed, as soon as effect upon the audience when transacted his passion is wrought to its height, he behind the scenes. I would therefore refollows his sister to the whole length of the commend to my countrymen the practice of stage, and forbears killing her till they are the ancient poets, who were very sparing of both withdrawn behind the scenes. I must their public executions, and rather chose to confess, had he murdered her before the perform them behind the scenes, if it could audience, the indecency might have been be done with as great an effect upon the augreater: but as it is, it appears very unna- dience. At the same time I must observe, tural, and looks like killing in cold blood. that though the devoted persons of the To give my opinion upon this case, the fact tragedy were seldom slain before the au ought not to have been represented, but to dience, which has generally something ridihave been told, if there was any occasion culous in it, their bodies were often pro for it.
duced after their death, which has always It may not be unacceptable to the reader in it something melancholy or terrifying: to see how Sophocles has conducted a tra- so that the killing on the stage does not gedy under the like delicate circumstances. seem to have been avoided only as an indeOrestes was in the same condition with cency, but also as an improbability, Hamlet in Shakspeare, his mother having "Nec pueros coram pop::lo Medea trucidet ; murdered his father, and taken possession
Aut humana palam coquat exta nefarius Atreus;
Ant in avem Progne vertatur, Cadmus in anguem, of his kingdom in conspiracy with her adul
Quodcunque ostendis mihi sic, incredulis odi, terer. That young prince, therefore, being
Hor. Ars Poet. determined to revenge his father's death
• Medea must not draw her murd'ring knife, upon those who filled his throne, conveys Nor Atreus there his horrid feast prepare : himself by a beautiful stratagem into his Cadmus and Progne's metamorphoses,
(She to a swallow turn'd, he to a snake ;) mother's apartment, with a resolution to kill
And whatsoever contradicts my sense, her. But because such a spectacle would I hate to see, and never can believe.'-Roscommon. nave been too shocking to the audience, this dreadful resolution is executed behind the
I have now gone through the several scenes: the mother is heard calling out to
dramatic inventions which are made use her son for mercy; and the son answering
of by the ignorant poets to supply the place her, that she showed no mercy to his fa
fors of tragedy, and by the skilful to improve ther; after which she shrieks out she is
it; some of which I could wish entirely rewounded, and by what follows we find that inte
tjected, and the rest to be used with caushe is slain. I do not remember that in tion. It would be an endless task to con: any of our plays there are speeches made
sider comedy in the same light, and to behind the scenes, though there are other
mention the innumerable shifts that smal] instances of this nature to be met with in
wits put in practice to raise a laugh. Bulthose of the ancients: and I believe my
lock in a short coat, and Norris in a long reader will agree with me, that there is
one, seldom fail of this effect. In ordinary something infinitely more affecting in this
comedies, a broad and a narrow brimmed dreadful dialogue between the mother and
hat are different characters. Sometimes
the wit of the scene lies in a shoulder belt. her son behind the scenes, than could have been in any thing transacted before the
and sometimes in a pair of whiskers. A audience. Orestes immediately after meets
lover running about the stage, with his the usurper at the entrance of his pa
head peeping out of a barrel,* was thought face; and by a very happy thought of
a very good jest in King Charles the Sethe poet avoids killing him before the au
cond's time; and invented by one of the dience, by telling him that he should live
* The comedy of The Comical Revenge, or Love in, some time in his present bitterness of soul Tub, by Sir George Etheridge.
first wits of that age. But because ridicule, which looks immodest in the fair sex, that is not so delicate as compassion, and be- I could not forbear taking off my eye from cause the objects that make us laugh are her when she moved in bed, and was in the infinitely more numerous than those that greatest confusion imaginable every time make us weep, there is a much greater she stirred a leg, or an arm. As the colatitude for comic than tragic artifices, quettes who introduced this custom grew and by consequence a much greater indul-old, they left it off by degrees; well knowgence to be allowed them.
C. ing that a woman of threescore may kick
and tumble her heart out, without making
any impression. No. 45.] Saturday, April 21, 1711. Sempronia is at present the most profess
ed admirer of the French nation, but is so Natio comoda est
Juv. Sat. iii. 100.
modest as to admit her visitants no further The nation is a company of players.
than her toilet. It is a very odd sight that THERE is nothing which I desire more beautiful creature makes, when she is talkthan a safe and honourable peace, though ing politics, with her tresses flowing about at the same time I am very apprehensive her shoulders, and examining that face in of many ill consequences that may attend the glass, which does such execution upon it. I do not mean in regard to our politics, all the male standers-by. How prettily but to our manners. What an inundation does she divide her discourse between her of ribands and brocades will break in upon women and her visitants! What sprightly us ? What peals of laughter and imperti- transitions does she make from an opera or nence shall we be exposed to ? For the a sermon, to an ivory comb or a pin-cushprevention of those great evils, I could ion! How have I been pleased to see her heartily wish that there was an act of par- ( interrupted in an account of her travels, by liament for prohibiting the importation of a message to her footman; and holding her French fopperies.
tongue in the midst of a moral reflection, by The female inhabitants of our island have applying the tip of it to a patch. already received very strong impressions There is nothing which exposes a woman from this ludicrous nation, though by the to greater dangers, than that gayety and length of the war (as there is no evil which airiness of temper, which are natural to has not some good attending it) they are most of the sex. It should be therefore pretty well worn out and forgotten. I re- the concern of every wise and virtuous member the time when some of our well-woman to keep this sprightliness from debred country-women kept their valet de generating into levity. On the contrary, chambre; because, forsooth, a man was the whole discourse and behaviour of the much more handy about them than one of French is to make the sex more fantastical, their own sex. I myself have seen one of or (as they are pleased to term it) more these male Abigails tripping about the awakened, than is consistent either with room with a looking-glass in his hand, and virtue or discretion. To speak loud in pubcombing his lady's hair a whole morning lic assemblies, to let every one hear you together. Whether or no there was any talk of things that should only be mentioned truth in the story of a lady's being got with in private, or in whisper, are looked upon child by one of these her hand-maids, I as parts of a refined education. At the cannot tell; but I think at present the whole same time, a blush is unfashionable, and race of them is extinct in our own country, silence more ill-bred than any thing that
About the time that several of our sex can be spoken. In short, discretion and were taken into this kind of service, the modesty, which in all other ages and counladies likewise brought up the fashion of tries have been regarded as the greatest receiving visits in their beds. It was then ornaments of the fair sex, are considered looked upon as a piece of ill-breeding for a | as the ingredients of narrow conversation woman to refuse to see a man because she and family behaviour. was not stirring; and a porter would have Some years ago I was at the tragedy of been thought unfit for his place, that could Macbeth, and unfortunately placed myself have made so awkward an excuse. As I under a woman of quality that is since dead; love to see every thing that is new, I once who as I found by the noise she made was prevailed upon my friend Will Honey- newly returned from France. A little be comb to carry me along with him to one of fore the rising of the curtain, she broke out these travelled ladies, desiring him at the into a loud soliloquy, When will the dear same time to present me as a foreigner witches enter?' and immediately upon their who could not speak English, that so I first appearance, asked a lady that sat threc might not be obliged to bear a part in the boxes from her on her right hand, if those discourse. The lady, though willing to ap-witches were not charming creatures. A pear undrest, had put on her best looks, little after, as Betterton was in one of the and painted herself for our reception. Her finest speeches of the play, she shook her hair appeared in a very nice disorder, as fan at another lady, who sat as far on her the night-gown which was thrown upon her left hand, and told her with a whisper that shoulders was ruffled with great care. For might be heard all over the pit, We must my part, I am so shocked with every thing! not expect to see Balloon to-night.' Not
long after, calling out to a young baronet confusion, raving and inconsistency. In by his name, who sat three seats before short, they are my speculations in the me, she asked him whether Macbeth's wife first principles, that (like the world in its was still alive; and before he could give an chaos) are void of all light, distinction, and answer, fell a talking of the ghost of Ban- order. quo. She had by this time formed a little About a week since there happened to audience to herself, and fixed the attention me a very odd accident, by reason of one of of all about her. But as I had a mind to these my papers of minutes which I had achear the play, I got out of the sphere of her cidentally dropped at Lloyd's coffee-house, impertinence, and planted myself in one of where the auctions are usually kept. Before the remotest corners of the pit.
I missed it, there were a cluster of people This pretty childishness of behaviour is who had found it, and were diverting themone of the most refined parts of coquetry, selves with it at one end of the coffee-house. and is not to be attained in perfection by It had raised so much laughter among them iadies that do not travel for their improve- before I had observed what they were ment. A natural and unconstrained beha- about, that I had not the courage to own viour has something in it so agreeable, that it. The boy of the coffee-house, when they it is no wonder to'see people endeavouring had done with it, carried it about in his after it. But at the same time it is so very hand, asking every body if they had drophard to hit, when it is not born with us, ped a written paper; but nobody chalthat people often make themselves ridicu- lenging it, he was ordered by those merry lous in attempting it.
gentlemen who had perused it, to get up A very ingenious French author tells us, into the auction pulpit, and read it to the that the ladies of the court of France, in his whole room, that if any one would own it, time, thought it ill-breeding, and a kind of they might. The boy accordingly mounted female pedantry, to pronounce a hard word the pulpit, and with a very audible voice right: for which reason they took frequent read as follows: occasion to use hard words, that they might show a politeness in murdering them. He
MINUTES. further adds, that a lady of some quality at Sir Roger de Coverley's country-seat-court having accidently made use of a hard Yes, for I hate long speeches--Query, if a word in a proper place, and pronounced it good Christian may be a conjurer-Chilright, the whole assembly was out of coun- dermas-day, saltseller, house-dog, screechtenance for her.
owl, cricket-Mr. Thomas Inkle of LonI must however be so just as to own that don, in the good ship called the Achilles. there are many ladies who have travelled Yarico—Ægrescitque medendo-Ghosts-several thousands of miles without being The Lady's Library-Lion by trade a taithe worse for it, and have brought home lor--Dromedary called Bucephalus-Equiwith them all the modesty, discretion, and page the lady's summum bonum-Charles good sense, that they went abroad with. Lillie to be taken notice of-Short face a As on the contrary, there are great num-relief to envy--Redundancies in the three bers of travelled ladies who have lived all professions-King Latinus a recruit-Jew their days within the smoke of London. I devouring a ham of bacon-Westminsterhave known a woman that never was out of | abbey-Grand Cairc-m---Procrastinationthe parish of St. James's betray as many | April fools-Blue boars, red lions, hogs in foreign fopperies in her carriage, as she armour-Enter a King and two Fiddlers could have gleaned up in half the countries solus Admission into the Ugly Club of Europe.
Beauty how improveable-Families of true and false humour-The parrot's school
mistress-Face half Pict half British-No No.46.] Monday, April 23, 1711.
man to be a hero of a tragedy under six
feet-Club of sighers-Letters from flowerNon bene junctarum discordia semina rerum. pots, elbow-chairs, tapestry, figures, lion,
Ooid, Met. Lib. i. ver. 8. I thunder-The bell rings to the puppetThe jarring seeds of ill-concerted things.
show.--Old woman with a beard married WHEN I want materials for this paper, to a smock-faced boy-My next coat to be it is my custom to go abroad in quest of turned up with blue-Fable of tongs and game; and when I meet any proper sub-gridiron--Flower dyers--The Soldier's ject, I take the first opportunity of setting prayer_Thank ye for nothing, says the down a hint upon paper. At the same galley-pot-Pactolus in stockings with goltime I look into the letters of my corres- den clocks to them-Bamboos, cudgels, pondents, and if I find any thing suggested drum-sticks--Slip of my lady's eldest in them that may afford matter of specula-daughter--The õlack mare with a star in tion, I likewise enter a minute of it in my her forehead--The barber's pole-Will collection of materials. By this means I Honeycomb's coat-pocket-Cæsar's behafrequently carry about me a whole sheet- viour and my own in parallel circumstances ful of hints, that would look like a rhan--Poein in patch-work-Nülli gravis esi sody of nonsense to any body but myself. percussus Achilles-The female conventi There is nothing in them but: obscurity and cler-The ogle-master.
· The reading of this paper made the ner, unless when the preacher is to be at it, whole coffee-house very merry; some of With him come a tribe, all brothers and them concluded it was written by a mad- sisters it seems; while others really such, man; and others by somebody that had been are deemed no relations. If at any time I taking notes out of the Spectator. One have her company alone, she is a mere who had the appearance of a very substan- sermon pop-gun, repeating and dischargtial citizen, told us, with several political ing texts, proofs, and applications, so perwinks and nods, that he wished there was petually, that however weary I may go to no more in the paper than was expressed bed, the noise in my head will not let me in it. that for his part, he looked upon the sleep till towards morning. The misery dromedary, the gridiron, and the barber's of my case, and great numbers of such sufpole to signify something more than what ferers, plead your pity and speedy relief; was usually meant by those words: and that otherwise must expect, in a little time, to he thought the coffee-man could not do be lectured, preached, and prayed into better than to carry the paper to one of want, unless the happiness of being sooner the sccretaries of state. He further added, talked to death prevent it. I am, &c. that he did not like the name of the out
R, G' landish man with the golden clock in his The second letter, relating to the ogling stockings. A young Oxford scholar, who
master, runs thus: chanced to be with his uncle at the coffeehouse, discovered to us who this Pactolus
MR. SPECTATOP,---I am an Irish gen was; and by that means turned the whole
|tleman that have travelled many years for scheme of this worthy citizen into ridicule.
my improvement; during which time I While they were making their several con
have accomplished myself in the whole jectures upon this innocent paper, I reached
art of ogling, as it is at present practised out my arm to the boy as he was coming
in the polite nations of Europe. Being thus out of the pulpit, to give it me; which he
qualified, I intend, by the advice of my did accordingly. This drew the eyes of the
friends, to set up for an ogling-master. I whole company upon me; but after having
teach the church-ogle in the morning, and cast a cursory glance over it, and shook
the play-house ogle by 'candle-light. I my head twice or thrice at the reading of
f have also brought over with me a new flyIt, I twisted it into a kind of match, and
ding ogle fit for the ring; which I teach in lighted my pipe with it. My profound si-1
the dusk of the evening, or in any hour of lence, together with the steadiness of my
the day, by darkening one of my windows. countenance, and the gravity of my beha-1
I have a manuscript by me called The viour during this whole transaction, raised
Complete Ogler, which I shall be ready to a very loud laugh on all sides of me; but as
show you on any occasion. In the mean time
I beg you will publish the substance of this author, I was very well satisfied, and ap
letter in an advertisement, and you will plying myself to my pipe and the Postman,
very much oblige, Yours, &c.' ' took no further notice of any thing that had passed about me. My reader will find, that I have already
No. 47.] Tuesday, April 24, 1711. made use of above half the contents of the
Mart. foregoing paper: and will easily suppose,
Laugh, if you are wise. that those subjects which are yet untouch-l. MR. HOBBS,* in his Discourse of Human ed, were such provisions as I had made for Nature, which, in my humble opinion, is his future entertainment. But as I have much the best of all his works, after some been unluckily prevented by this accident, very curious observations upon laughter, I shall only give him the letters which re-concludes thus: "The passion of laughter lated to the two last hints. The first of is nothing else but sudden glory arising* them I should not have published, were I from some sudden conception of some eminot informed that there is many a hus- nency in ourselves, by comparison with band who suffers very much in his private the infirmity of others, or with our own affairs by the indiscreet zeal of such a part- formerly; for men laugh at the follies of ner as is hereafter mentioned; to whom I themselves past, when they come suddenly may apply the barbarous inscription quoted to remembrance, except they bring with by the Bishop of Salisbury in his travels; them any present dishonour.' • Dum nimis pia est facta est impia:'--- According to this author, therefore, when
Through too much piety she became im- we hear a man laugh excessively, instead pious.'
of saying he is very merry, we ought to tell
him he is very proud. And indeed, if we "SIR, ---I am one of those unhappy men that are plagued with a gospel-gossip,
* Thomas Hobbs of Malmsbury. “He is commonly
represented," says Granger, "as a sceptic in religion, so common among dissenters (especially
and a dogmatist in philosophy; but he was a dog. friends.) Lectures in the morning, church matist in both. The main principles of his Leviathan
are as little founded in moral or evangelical truth, as
the rules he has laid down for squaring the circle are at night, take up so much of her time, it is
in mathematical demonstration." He died in 1679, at very rare she knows what we have for din- I the advanced age of 92.
look into the bottom of this matter, we every body takes it into his head to make shall meet with many observations to con- as many fools as he can. In proportion as firm us in this opinion. Every one laughs there are more follies discovered, so there at somebody that is in an inferior state of is more laughter raised on this day than on folly to himself. It was formerly the cus- any other in the whole year. A neighbour tom for every great house in England to of mine, who is a haberdasher by trade, Keep a tame fool dressed in petticoats, that and a very shallow. conceited fellow, makes the heir of the family might have an op- his boast that for these ten years succesportunity of joking upon him, and diverting sively he has not made less than a hunhimself with his absurdities. For the dred April fools. My landlady had a fallsame reason, idiots are still in request in ing out with him about a fortnight ago, for most of the courts of Germany, where sending every one of her children upon there is not a prince of any great magnifi- some sleeveless errand, as she terms it. cence, who has not two or three dressed, Her eldest son went to buy a half-pennydistinguished, undisputed fools in his reti- worth of inkle at a shoemaker's; the eld. nue, whom the rest of the courtiers are est daughter was despatched half a mile to always breaking their jests upon.
see a monster, and, in short, the whole faThe Dutch, who are more famous for mily of innocent children made April fools. their industry and application, than for Nay, my landlady herself did not escape wit and humour, hang up in several of him. This empty fellow has laughed upon their streets what they call the sign of the these conceits ever since, Gaper, that is, the head of an idiot dress- This art of wit is well enough, when con ed in a cap and bells, and gaping in a most fined to one day in a twelvemonth: but immoderate manner. This is a standing there is an ingenious tribe of men sprung iest at Amsterdam.
up of late years, who are for making April Thus every one diverts himself with fools every day in the year. These gentlesome person or other that is below him in men are commonly distinguished by the point of understanding, and triumphs in the name of Biters: a race of men that are superiority of his genius, whilst he has perpetually employed in laughing at those such objects of derision before his eyes. mistakes which are of their own producMr. Dennis has very well expressed this tion. in a couple of humorous lines, which are Thus we see, in proportion as one man is part of a translation of a satire in Monsieur more refined than another, he chooses his Boileau:
fool out of a lower or higher class of man*Thus one fool lolls his tongue out at another, kind, or to speak in a more philosophical And shakes his empty noddle at his brother." language, that secret elation or pride of Mr. Hobbs's reflection gives us the rea- | heart, which is generally called laughter, son why the insignificant people above-arises in him, from his comparing himself mentioned are stirrers-up of laughter with an object below him, whether it so among men of a gross taste: but as the happens that it be a natural or an artificial more understanding part of mankind do fool. It is, indeed, very possible, that the not find their risibility affected by such or- persons we laugh at may in the main of dinary objects, it may be worth the while their characters be much wiser men than to examine into the several provocatives of ourselves; but if they would have us laugh laughter, in men of superior sense and at them, they must fall short of us in those knowledge.
respects which stir up this passion. In the first place I must observe, that I am afraid I shall appear too abstracted there is a set of merry drolls, whom the in my speculations, if I show, that when a common people of all countries admire, man of wit makes us laugh, it is by betrayand seem to love so well, “that they could ing some oddness or infirmity in his own eat them;' according to the old proverb: Icharacter, or in the representation which mean those circumforaneous wits whom he makes of others; and that when we every nation calls by the name of that dish laugh at a brute, or even at an inanimate of meat which it loves best: in Holland thing, it is at some action or incident that they are termed Pickled Herrings; in bears a remote analogy to any blunder or France, Jean Pottage; in Italy, Macaro- absurdity in reasonable creatures. nies; and in Great Britain, Jack Puddings. But to come into common life: I shall These merry wags, from whatsoever food pass by the consideration of those stage they receive their titles, that they may make coxcombs that are able to shake a whole their audiences laugh, always appear in a audience, and take notice of a particular fool's coat, and commit such blunders and sort of men who are such provokers of mistakes in every step they take, and every mirth in conversation, that it is impossible word they utter, as those who listen to for a club or merry meeting to subsist withthem would be ashamed of.
out them; I mean those honest gentlemen But this little triumph of the understand that are always exposed to the wit and ing under the disguise of laughter, is no raillery of their well-wishers and compawhere more visible than in that custom nions; that are pelted by men, women, and which prevails every where among us on children, friends and foes, and, in a word, the first day of the present month, when stand as butts in conversation, for every