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of Troilus the son of Hecuba; which, by ture. I would humbly propose, for the the way, makes me believe, that these false benefit of our modern smatterers in poetry, pieces of wit are much more ancient than that they would imitate their brethren the authors to whom they are generally among the ancients in those ingenious deascribed; at least I will never be persuaded, vices. I have communicated this thought that so fine a writer as Theocritus could to a young poetical lover of my acquainthave been the author of any such simple ance, who intends to present his mistress works.
with a copy of verses made in the shape of It was impossible for a man to succeed in her fan: and if he tells me true, has alreathese performances who was not a kind of dy finished the three first sticks of it. He painter, or at least a designer. He was first has likewise promised me to get the meaof all to draw the outline of the subject sure of his mistress's marriage finger, with
wards conform the description to the figure ring, which shall exactly fit it. It is so very of his subject. The poetry was to contract easy to enlarge upon a good hint, that I or dilate itself according to the mould in do not question but my ingenious readers which it was cast. In a word, the verses will apply what I have said to many other were to be cramped or extended to the particulars: and that we shall see the town dimensions of the frame that was prepared filled in a very little time with poetical tipfor them; and to undergo the fate of those pets, handkerchiefs, snuff-boxes, and the persons whom the tyrant Procustes used like female ornaments. I shall therefore to lodge in his iron bed; if they were too conclude with a word of advice to those adshort, he stretched them on a rack; and if mirable English authors who call themthey were too long, chopped off a part of selves Pindaric writers, that they would aptheir legs, till they fitted the couch which ply themselves to this kind of wit without loss he had prepared for them.
of time, as being provided better than any Mr. Dryden hints at this obsolete kind other poets with verses of all sizes and diof wit in one of the following verses in his mensions.
C. Mac Flecno; which an English reader cannot understand, who does not know that there are those little poems above-men- | No. 59.7 Tuesday, May 8. 111. tioned in the shape of wings and altars:
Operose nihil agunt. Seneca. ------Choose for thy command Some peaceful province in acrostic land;
Busy about nothing. There may'st thou wings display, and altars raise, 1 THERE is nothing more certain than that And torture one poor word a thousand ways.
every man would be a wit if he could; and This fashion of false wit was revived by notwithstanding pedants of a pretended several poets of the last age, and in par-depth and solidity are apt to decry the wri ticular may be met with among Mr. Her-tings of a polite author, as flash and froth, bert's poems; and, if I am not mistaken, in they all of them show upon occasion, that the translation of Du Bartas. I do not re- they would spare no pains to arrive at the member any other kind of work among the character of those whom they seem to desmoderns which more resembles the per- pise. For this reason we often find them formances I have mentioned, than that endeavouring at works of fancy, which cost famous picture of king Charles the First, them infinite pangs in the production. The which has the whole book of Psalms writ- truth of it is, a man had better be a galley ten in the lines of the face, and the hair of slave than a wit, were one to gain that title the head. When I was last at Oxford, I by those elaborate trifles which have been perused one of the wliiskers, and was read- the inventions of such authors as were ing the other, but could not go so far in it as often masters of great learning, but no I would have done, by reason of the im-genius. patience of my friends and fellow-travel- In my last paper I mentioned some of lers, who all of them pressed to see such a those false wits among the ancients, and piece of curiosity. I have since heard, that in this shall give the reader two or three there is now an eminent writing-master in other species of them, that flourished in the town, who has transcribed all the Old Tes- same early ages of the world. The first I tament in a full-bottomed periwig; and if shall produce are the lipogrammatists or the fashion should introduce the thick kind letter-droppers of antiquity, that would take of wigs, which were in vogue some years an exception, without any reason, against ago, he promises to add two or three super- some particular letter in the alphabet, so numerary locks that shall contain all the as not to admit it once into a whole poem, Apocrypha. He designed this wig origi- One Tryphiodorus was a great master in nally for king William, having disposed of this kind of writing. He composed an the two books of Kings in the two forks of Odyssey or epic poem on the adventures the foretop; but that glorious monarch dy- of Ulysses, consisting of four and twenty ing before the wig was finished, there is a books, having entirely banished the letter A space left in it for the face of any one that from his first book, which was called Alpha has a mind to purchase it.
(as lucus a non lucendo) because there was But to return to our ancient poems in pic-not an Alpha in it. His second book was in.
scribed Beta for the same reason. In short, Among innumerable instances that may be the poet excluded the whole four and twen- 1 given of this nature, I shall produce the ty letters in their turns, and showed them, device of one Mr. Newberry, as I find it cne after another, that he could do his bu- mentioned by our learned Camden in his siness without them."
Remains. Mr. Newberry, to represent his It must have been very pleasant to have name by a picture, hung up at his door the seen this poet avoiding the reprobate letter, sign of a yew-tree, that had several berrieg as much as another would a false quantity, upon it, and in the midst of them a great and making his escape from it through the golden N hung upon a bough of a tree, several Greek dialects, when he was press- which by the help of a little false spelling ed with it in any particular syllable. For the made up the word N-ew-berry. most apt and elegant word in the whole I shall conclude this topic with a rebus, language was rejected, like a diamond with which has been lately hewn out in free a flaw in it, if it appeared blemished with stone, and erected over two of the portals a wrong letter. I shall only observe upon of Blenheim House, being the figure of a this head, that if the work I have here monstrous lion tearing to pieces a little mentioned had now been extant, the Odys-cock. For the better understanding of sey of Typhiodorus, in all probability, which device, I must acquaint my English would have been oftener quoted by our reader, that a cock has the misfortune to learned pedants, than the Odyssey of Ho- be called in Latin by the same word that mer. What a perpetual fund would it signifies a Frenchman, as a lion is an emhave been of obsolete words and phrases, blem of the English nation. Such a device unusual barbarisms and rusticities, absurd in so noble a pile of building, looks like a spellings, and complicated dialects? I pun in an heroic poem; and I am very make no question but it would have been sorry the truly ingenious architect would looked upon as one of the most valuable suffer the statuary to blemish his exceltreasures of the Greek tongue.
lent plan with so poor a conceit. But I I find likewise among the ancients that hope what I have said will gain quarter for ingenious kind of conceit, which the mo- the cock, and deliver him out of the lion's derns distinguish by the name of a rebus, paw. that does not sink a letter, but a whole I find likewise in ancient times the conword, by substituting a picture in its place,"ceit of making an echo talk sensibly, and When Cæsar was one of the masters of the give rational answers. · If this could be exRoman mint, he placed the figure of an ele-cusable in any writer, it would be in Ovid, phant upon the reverse of the public money; where he introduces the echo as a nymph, the word Cæsar signifying an elephant in before she was worn away into nothing but the Punic language. This was artificially a voice. The learned Erasmus, though a contrived by Cæsar, because it was not man of wit and genius, has composed a lawful for a private man to stamp his own dialogue upon this silly kind of device, and figure upon the coin of the commonwealth. made use of an echo who seems to have Cicero, who was so called from the foun- been a very extraordinary linguist, for she der of his family, that was marked on the answers the persons she talks with in nose with a little wen like a vetch (which Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, according as is Cicer in Latin,) instead of Marcus Tullius she found the syllables which she was to Cicero, ordered the words. Marcus Tullius, repeat in any of those learned languages. with a figure of a vetch at the end of them, Hudibras, in ridicule of this false kind of to be inscribed on a public monument, wit, has described Bruin bewailing the loss This was done probably to show that he of his bear to a solitary echo, who is of was neither ashamed of his name or family, great use to the poet in several distichs, notwithstanding the envy of his competi- as she does not only repeat after him, but tors had often reproached him with both. helps out his verse, and furnishes him with In the same manner we read of a famous rhymes. building that was marked in several parts
" He rag'd, and kept as heavy a coil as of it with the figures of a frog and a lizard; Stout Hercules for loss of Hylas; those words in Greek having been the
Forcing the valleys to repeat
The accents of his sad regret; . names of the architects, who by the laws
He beat his breast, and tore his hair, of their country were never permitted to For loss of his dear crony bear, inscribe their own names upon their works.
That Echo from the hollow ground
His doleful wailings did resound For the same reason it is thought, that the
More wistfully by many times, forelock of the horse in the antique eques- | Than in small poet's splay-foot rhymes, trian statue of Marcus Aurelius, represents
That make her, in their rueful stories,
To answer to int’rogatories, at a distance the shape of an owl, to inti
And most unconscionably depose mate the country of the statuary, who, in Things of which she nothing knows: all probability, was an Athenian. This And when she has said all she can say
'Tis wrested to the lover's fancy. kind of wit was very much in vogue among |
Quoth he, O whither, wicked Bruin, our own countrymen about an age or two Art thou fled to my- Echo, Ruin? ago, who did not practise it for any oblique I thought th' hadst scorn'd to budge a step reason, as the ancients above-mentioned,
For fear. (Quoth Echo) Marry guep.
Am I not here to take thy part? out purely for the sake of being witty. | Then what has quell'd thy stuburm heart 3
Have these bones rattled, and this head
| mine not broken up, which will not show So often in thy quarrel bled ? Nor did I ever winch or grudge it,
the treasure it contains, till he shall have For thy dear sake. (Quoth she) Mum budget
spent many hours in the search of it; for it is Think'st thou 'twill not be laid 'i th' dish,
his business to find out one word that conThou turn'st thy back? (Quoth Echo) Pish!
ceals itself in another, and to examine the To run from those th' hadst overcome Thus cowardly? (Quoth Echo) Mum.
letters in all the variety of stations in which But what a vengeance makes thee fly
they can possibly be ranged. I have heard From me too as thine enemy? Or if thou hast no thought of me,
of a gentleman who, when this kind of wit Nor what I have endur'd for thee,
was in fashion, endeavoured to gain his Yet shame and honour might prevail
mistress's heart by it. She was one of the To keep thee thus from turning tail: For who would grudge to spend his blood in
finest women of her age, and known by the His honour's cause ? (Quoth she) A pudding.' name of the Lady Mary Boon. The lover not
being able to make any thing of Mary, by
certain liberties indulged to this kind of No. 60.] Wednesday, May 9 1711.
writing, converted it into Moll; and after
having shut himself up for a half year, Hoc est quod palles ? Cur quis non prandeat, Hoc est. with indefatigable industry produced an
Pers. Sat, iii. 85.
anagram. Upon the presenting it to his Is it for this you gain those meagre looks,
mistress, who was a little vexed in her And sacrifice your dinner to your books?
heart to see herself degraded into Moll SEVERAL kinds of false wit that vanished Boon, she told him, to his infinite surprise, in the refined ages of the world, discovered that he had mistaken her surname, for that themselves again in the time of monkish it was not Boon, but Bohun. ignorance.
- - =- Ibi omnis As the monks were the masters of all
Effusus labor that little learning which was then extant, The lover was thunder-struck with his and had their whole lives entirely disen- misfortune, insomuch that in a little time gaged from business, it is no wonder that after he lost his senses, which indeed had several of them, who wanted genius for been very much impaired by that continual higher performances, employed many application he had given to his anagram. hours in the composition of such tricks in The acrostic was probably invented about writing, as required much time and little the same time with the anagram, though it capacity. I have seen half the Æneid is impossible to decide whether the inventurned into Latin rhymes by one of the tor of the one or the other were the greater beaux esprits of that dark age: who says blockhead. The simple acrostic is nothing in his preface to it, that the Æneid wanted but the name or title of a person, or thing, nothing but the sweets of rhyme to make made out of the initial letters of several it the most perfect work in its kind. I have verses, and by that means written, after the likewise seen a hymn in hexameters to manner of the Chinese, in a perpendicular the Virgin Mary, which filled a whole line. But besides these there are compound book, though it consisted but of the eight acrostics, when the principal letters stand following words:
two or three deep. I have seen some of Tot, tíbí, sunt, Virgo, dotes, quot, sidera, cælo.' them where the verses have not only been "Thou hast as many virtues, o Virgin, as there are edged by a name at each extremity, but stars in heaven.'
have had the same name running down like The poet rung the changes upon these a seam through the middle of the poem. eight several words, and by that means There is another near relation of the anamade his verses almost as numerous as grams and acrostics, which is commonly the virtues and the stars which they cele- called a chronogram. This kind of wit apbrated. It is no wonder that men who pears very often on many modern medals, had so much time upon their hand did not especially those of Germany, when they reonly restore all the antiquated pieces of present in the inscription the year in which false wit, but enriched the world with in- they were coined. Thus we see on a medal ventions of their own. It was to this age of Gustavus Adolphus the following words, that we owe the productions of ạnagrams, CHRISTVs DUX ERGO TRIVMPHVs. If which is nothing else but a transmutation of you take the pains to pick the figures out of one word into another, or the turning of the several words, and range them in their the same set of letters into different words; l proper order, you will find they amount which may change night into day, or black to MDCXXVII, or 1627, the year in which into white, if Chance, who is the goddess the medal was stamped: for as some of the that presides over these sorts of composi- letters distinguish themselves from the rest, tion, shall so direct. I remember a witty and overtop their fellows, they are to be author, in allusion to this kind of writing, considered in a double capacity, both as calls his rival, who (it seems) was distort- letters and as figures. Your laborious Gered, and had his limbs set in places that did man wits will turn over a whole dictionary rot properly belong to them, the anagram for one of these ingenious devices. A man of a man.'
would think they were searching after an . When the anagrammatist takes a name apt classical term, but instead of that they to work upon, he considers it at first as alare looking out a word that has an L, ar
with any of these inscriptions, we are not made them in some manner excusable, as so much to look in them for the thought, they were tasks which the French ladies as for the year of the Lord.
used to impose on their lovers. But when The bouts-rimez were the favourites of a grave author, like him above-mentioned, the French nation for a whole age together, tasked himself, could there be any thing and that at a time when it abounded in wit more ridiculous? Or would not one be apt and learning. They were a list of words to believe that the author played booty, that rhyme to one another, drawn up by and did not make his list of rhymes till he another hand, and given to a poet, who was had finished his poem? to make a poem to the rhymes in the same I shall only add, that this piece of false order that they were placed upon the list: wit has been finely ridiculed by Monsieur the more uncommon the rhymes were, the Sarasin, in a poem entitled, La Defaite more extraordinary was the genius of the des Bouts-Rimez, The Rout of the Boutspoet that could accommodate his verses to Rimez. them. I do not know any greater instance I must subjoin to this last kind of wit the of the decay of wit and learning among the double rhymes, which are used in doggerel French (which generally follows the de- poetry, and generally applauded by ignoclension of empire) than the endeavouring rant readers. If the thought of the couplet to restore this foolish kind of wit. If the in such compositions is good, the rhyme reader will be at the trouble to see exam- adds little to it; and if bad, it will not be ples of it, let him look into the new Mer- in the power of the rhyme to recommend cure Gallant; where the author every month it. I am afraid that great numbers of those gives a list of rhymes to be filled up by the who admire the incomparable Hudibras, ingenious, in order to be communicated to do it more on account of these doggerel the public in the Mercure for the succeed- rhymes, than of the parts that really deing month. That for the month of Novem- serve admiration. I am sure I have heard ber last, which now lies before me, is as the follows:
* Pulpit, drum ecclesiastic,
Was beat with fist, instead of a stick;'
Guerriers "There was an ancient sage philosopher,
Who had read Alexander Ross over;
Cæsar's pieces of wit in the whole poem. C. - Etendars
No. 61.] Thursday, May 10, 1711.
Non equidem hoc studeo, bullatis ut mihi nugis a man as Menage talking seriously on this
Pagina turgescat, dare pondus idoneo fumo.
Pers. Sat. v. 19 kind of trifle in the following passage:
'Tis not indeed my talent to engage Monsieur de la Chambre has told me, I In lofty triflos, or to swell my page that he never knew what he was going to
With wind and noise.
Dryden. write when he took his pen into his hand; THERE is no kind of false wit which has but that one sentence always produced been so recommended by the practice of all another. For my own part I never knew ages, as that which consists in a jingle of what I should write next when I was mak-words, and is comprehended under the geing verses. In the first place, I got all my neral name of punning. It is indeed imposrhymes together, and was afterwards per sible to kill a weed which the soil has a naps three or four months in filling them natural disposition to produce. The seeds up. I one day showed Monsieur Gombaud of punning are in the minds of all men; and a composition of this nature, in which, though they may be subdued by reason, among others, I had made use of the four fol- reflection, and good sense, they will be very lowing rhymes, Amaryllis, Phyllis, Marne, apt to shoot up in the greatest genius that Arne; desiring him to give me his opinion of is not broken and cultivated by the rules of it. He told me immediately, that my verses art. Imitation is natural to us, and when were good for nothing. And upon my ask-it does not raise the mind to poetry, painting his reason, he said, because the rhymes ing, music, or other more noble arts, it often are too common; and for that reason' easy breaks out in puns, and quibbles.
it be so, I am very well rewarded for all book of rhetoric, describes two or three the pains I have been at.” But by Mon- kinds of puns, which he calls paragrams, sieur Gombaud's leave, notwithstanding the among the beauties of good writing, and severity of the criticism, the verses were i produces instances of them out of some of good.' Vid. Menagiana.*-Thus far the the greatest authors in the Greek tongue. learned Menage, whom I have translated Cicero has sprinkled several of his works word for word.
with puns, and in his book where he lays
down the rules of oratory, quotes abundance * Tom i. p. 174. &c. ed. Amst 1713. I of sayings as pieces of wit, which also upon
examination prove arrant puns. But the ceded them. It was one of the emplova age in which the pun chiefly flourished, was ments of these secondary authors, to disin the reign of King James the First. That | tinguish the several kinds of wit by terms learned monarch was himself a tolerable of art, and to consider them as more or less punster, and made very few bishops or perfect, according as they were founded in privy-counsellors that had not sometime truth. It is no wonder therefore, that even or other signalized themselves by a clinch, such authors as Isocrates, Plato, and Cicero, or a conundrum. It was therefore in this should have such little blemishes as are not age that the pun appeared with pomp and to be met with in authors of much inferior dignity. It had been before admitted into character, who have written since those merry speeches and ludicrous compositions, several blemishes were discovered. I do but was now delivered with great gravity not find that there was a proper separation from the pulpit, or pronounced in the most made between puns and true wit by any of solemn manner at the council-table. The the ancient authors, except Quintilian and greatest authors, in their most serious Longinus. But when this distinction was works, made frequent use of puns. The once settled, it was very natural for all men sermons of Bishop Andrews, and the trage- of sense to agree in it. As for the revival dies of Shakspeare are full of them. The of this false wit, it happened about the time sinner was punned into repentance by the of the revival of letters; but as soon as it was former, as in the latter nothing is more once detected, it immediately vanished and usual than to see a hero weeping and quib- disappeared. At the same time there is no bling for a dozen lines together.
question, but as it has sunk in one age and I must add to these great authorities, rose in another, it will again recover itself which seem to have given a kind of sanc- in some distant period of time, as pedantry tion to this piece of false wit, that all the and ignorance shall prevail upon wit and writers of rhetoric have treated of punning sense. And, to speak the truth, I do very with very great respect, and divided the much apprehend, by some of the last winseveral kinds of it into hard names, that ter's productions, which had their sets of are reckoned among the figures of speech, admirers, that our posterity will in a few and recommended as ornaments in dis- years degenerate into a race of punsters: course. I remember a country schoolmas- at least, a man may be very excusable for ter of my acquaintance told me once, that any apprehensions of this kind, that has he had been in company with a gentleman seen acrostics handed about the town with whom he looked upon to be the greatest great secrecy and applause; to which I panagrammatist among the moderns. Upon must also add a little epigram called the inquiry, I found my learned friend had Witches' Prayer, that fell into verse when dined that day with Mr. Swan, the famous it was read either backward or forward, punster; and desiring him to give me some excepting only that it cursed one way, and account of Mr. Swan's conversation, he blessed the other. When one sees there told me that he generally talked in the are actually such pains-takers among our Paranomasia, that he sometimes gave into British wits, who can tell what it may end the Plocè, but that in his humble opinion in? If we must lash one another, let it be he shined most in the Antanaclasis
with the manly strokes of wit and satire; for I must not here omit that a famous uni- I am of the old philosopher's opinion, that versity of this land was formerly very much if I must suffer from one or the other, I infested with puns; but whether or no this would rather it should be from the paw of might not arise from the fens and marshes a lion, than from the hoof of an ass. I do in which it was situated, and which are not speak this out of any spirit of party. now drained, I must leave to the determi-There is a most crying dullness on both nation of more skilful naturalists. . sides. I have seen tory acrostics, and
After this short history of punning, one whig anagrams, and do not quarrel with would wonder how it should be so entirely either of them because they are whigs or banished out of the learned world as it is at tories, but because they are anagrams and present, especially since it had found al acrostics. place in the writings of the most ancient But to return to punning. Having pursued polite authors. To account for this we must the history of a pun, from its original to its consider, that the first race of authors who downfall, I shall here define it to be a conwere the great heroes in writing, were ceit arising from the use of two words that destitute of all the rules and arts of criti-agree in the sound, but differ in the sense. cism; and for that reason, though they ex-The only way therefore to try a piece of cel later writers in greatness of genius, they wit, is to translate it into a different lanfall short of them in accuracy and correct-guage. If it bears the test, you may proness. The moderns cannot reach their nounce it true; but if it vanishes in the exbeauties, but can avoid their imperfections. periment, you may conclude it to have When the world was furnished with these been a pun. In short, one may say of a authors of the first eminence, there grew pun, as the countryman described his up another set of writers, who gained them- nightingale, that it is vox et præterea niselves a reputation by the remarks which hil,'---' a sound, and nothing but a sound.' they made on the works of those who pre- On the contrary, one may represent true