Imágenes de páginas

them. While men are in this temper (which happens very frequently) how inconsistent are they with themselves? They are wearied with the toil they bear, but cannot find in their hearts to relinquish it; retirement is what they want, but they cannot betake themselves to it. While they pant after shade and covert, they still affect to appear in the most glittering scenes of life. Sure this is but just as reasonable as if a man should call for more lights, when he has a mind to go to sleep. Since then it is certain that our own hearts deceive us in the love of the world, and that we cannot command ourselves enough to resign it, though we every day wish ourselves disengaged from its allurements, let us not stand upon a formal taking of leave, but wean ourselves from them while we are in the midst of them. It is certainly the general intention of the greater part of mankind to accomplish this work, and live according to their own approbation, as soon as they possibly can. But since the duration of life is souncertain, and that has been a common topic of discourse ever since there was such a thing as life itself, how is it possible that we should defer a moment the beginning to live according to the rules of reason? The man of business has ever some one point to carry, and then he tells himself he will bid adieu to all the vanity of ambition. The man of pleasure resolves to take his leave at least, and part civilly with his mistress; but the ambitious man is entangled every moment in a fresh pursuit, and the lover sees new charms in the object he fancied he could abandon. It is therefore a fantastical way of thinking, when we promise ourselves an alteration in our conduct from change of place, and difference of circumstances; the same passions will attend us wherever we are, till they are conquered, and we can never live to our satisfaction in the deepest retirement, unless we are capable of living so, in some measure, amidst the noise and business of the world. I have ever thought men were better known by what could be observed of them from a perusal of their private letters, than any other way. My friend the clergyman, the other day, upon serious discourse with him concerning the danger of procrastination, gave me the following letters from persons with whom he lives in greatfriendship and intimacy, according to the good breeding and good sense of his character. The first is from a man of business, who is his convert: the second from one of whom he conceives good hopes: the third from one who is in no state at all, but carried one way and another by starts.

‘SIR,--I know not with what words to express to you the sense I have of the high obligation you have laid upon me, in the penance you enjoined me of doing some good or other to a person of worth every day I

live. The station I am in furnishes me with daily opportunities of this, kind; and the noble principle with which you have inspired me, of benevolence to all I have to deal with, quickens my application in every thing I undertake. hen I relieve merit from discountenance, when I assist a friendless person, when I produce concealed worth, I am displeased with myself, for having designed to leave the world in order to be virtuous. I am sorry you decline the occasions which the condition I am in might afford me of enlarging your fortunes; but I know I contribute more to your satisfaction, when I acknowledge I am the better man, from the influence and authority you have over, sir, your most obliged and most humble servant, , R. O.”

‘SIR,--I am entirely convinced of the truth of what you were pleased to say to me, when I was last with you alone. You told me then of the silly way I was in; but you told me so, as I saw you loved me, otherwise I could not obey your commands in letting }*. know my do so sincerely as I do, at present. I know “the creature, for whom I resign so much of my character,” is all that you said of her; but then the trifler has something in her so undesigning and harmless, that her guilt in one kind disappears by the comparison of her innocence in another. Will you, virtuous man, allow no alteration of offences? Must dear Chloe be called by the hard name you pious people give to common wo– men? I keep the solemn promise I made you in writing to you the state of my mind, after your kind admonition; and will endeavour to get the better of this fondness, which makes me so much her humble servant, that I am almost ashamed to subscribe myself yours, T. D.”

‘SIR,-There is no state of life soanxious as that of a man who does not live according to the dictates of his own reason. It will seem odd to you, when I assure you that my love of retirement first of all brought me to court; but this will be no riddle, when I acquaint you that I placed myself here with a design of getting so much money as might enable me to purchase a handsome retreat in the country. At present my circumstances enable me, and my duty prompts me to pass away the remaining part of my life in such a retirement as I at first proFo to myself; but to my great misfortune

have entirely lost the relish of it, and should now return to the country with greater reluctance than I at first came to court. I am so unhappy, as to know that what I am fond of are trifles, and that what I neglect is of the greatest importance; in short, I find a contest in my own mind between reason and fashion. I remember you once told me, that I might live in the world and out of it, at the same time. Let me beg of you to explain this paradox more at large to me, that I may conform my life, if

[ocr errors]

possible, both to my duty and my inclination. I am yours, &c. R. B.” C.

No. 28.] Monday, Ahril 2, 1711.]
Neque semper arcum

Tendit Apollo. Hor. Lib. 2. Od. x. 19.
Nor does Apollo always bend his bow.

I shALL here present my reader with a letter from a projector, concerning a new office, which he thinks may very much contribute to the embellishment of the city, and to the driving barbarity out of our streets. . I consider it as a satire upon projectors in general, and a lively picture of the whole art of modern criticism,

*SIR,-Observing that you have thoughts of creating certain officers under you, for the inspection of several petty enormities which you yourself cannot attend to; and finding daily absurdities hung out upon the sign-posts of this o to the great scandal of foreigners, as well as those of our own country, who are curious spectators of the same; I do humbly propose that you will be pleased to make me §". superintendant of all such figures and devices, as are or shall be made use of on this occasion; with full powers to rectify or expunge whatever I shall find irregular or o For want of such an officer, there is nothing like sound literature and good sense to be met with in those objects that are every where thrusting themselves out to the eye, and endeavouring to become visible. 8. streets are filled with blue boars, black swans, and red lions; not to mention flying pigs, and hogs in armour, with many other creatures more extraordinary than any in the deserts of Africa. Strange! that one who has all the birds and beasts in nature to choose out of, should live at the sign of an Ens Rationis!

“My first task therefore should be, like that of Hercules, to clear the city from monsters. In the second place, I would forbid that creatures of jarring and incongruous natures should be joined together in the same sign; such as the bell and the neat’s tongue, the dog and the gridiron. The fox and the goose may be supposed to have met, but what has the fox . seven stars to do together? And when did the lamb and dolphin ever meet, except upon a sign post? As for the cat and fiddle, there is a conceit in it; and therefore I do not intend that anything I have here said should affect it. I must however observe to you upon this subject, that it is usual for a young tradesman, at his first setting up, to add to his own sign that of the master whom he served; as the husband, after marriage, gives a place to his mistress’s arms in his own coat. This I take to have given rise to many of those absurdities which are committed over our heads; and, as I am informed, first occasioned the three

nuns and a hare, which we see so frequentl joined together. I would therefore establish certain rules, for the determining how far one tradesman may give the sign of another, and in what cases he may be allowed to quarter it with his own. “In the third place, I would enjoin every shop to make use of a sign which bears some affinity to the wares in which it deals. What can be more inconsistent, than to see a bawd at the sign of the angel, or a tailor at the lion? A cook should not live at the boot, nor a shoemaker at the roasted pig; and yet, for want of this regulation, I have seen a goat set "o the door of a perfumer, and the French king’s head at a sword-cutler’s. “An ingenious foreigner observes, that several of those gentlemen who value themselves upon their families, and overlook such as are bred to trade, bear the tools of their forefathers in their coats of arms. I will not examine how true this is in fact. But though it may not be necessary for posterity thus to set up the sign of their forefathers, I think it highly proper for those who actually profess the trade to show some such marks of it before their doors. * When the name givesan occasion for an ingenious sign-post, I would likewise advise the owner to take that opportunity of letting the world know who he is. It would have been ridiculous for the ingenious Mrs. Salmon to have lived at the sign of the trout; for which reason she has erected before her house the figure of the fish that is her namesake. Mr. Bell has likewise distinguished himself by a device of the same nature: and here, sir, I must beg leave to observe to you, that this particular figure of abell has given occasion to several pieces of wit in this kind. A man of your reading must know, that Abel Drugger gained great applause by it in the time of Ben Jonson. Our apocryphal heathen god" is also represented by this figure; which, in conjunction with the dragon, makes a very handsome picture in several of our streets. As for the bell-savage, which is the sign of a savage man standing by a bell, I was formerly very much puzzled upon the conceit of it, till I accidentally fell into the reading of an old romance translated out of the French; which gives an account of a Yo. beautiful woman who was found in a wilderness, and is called in the French La belle Sauvage; and is every where translated by our countrymen the bell-savage. This piece of philosophy will, I hope, convince you that I have made sign-posts my study, and consequently qualified myself for the employment which I solicit at your hands. But before I conclude my letter, I must communicate to you another remark, which I have made upon the subject with which I am now entertaining you, namely, that I can give a shrewd guess at the hu

* St. George,

mour of the inhabitant by the sign that hangs before his door. A surly choleric fellow generally makes choice of a bear; as men of milder dispositions frequently live at the lamb. Seeing a punch-bowl painted upon a sign near Charing-cross, and very curiously garnished, with a couple of angels, hovering over it, and squeezing a lemon into it, I had the curiosity to ask after the master of the house, and found, upon inquiry, as I had guessed o the little agremens upon his sign, that he was a Frenchman. I know, sir, it is not requisite for me to enlarge upon these hints to a gentleman of our great abilities; so humbly recommending myself to your favour and patronage, - “I remain, &c.” I shall add to the foregoing letter another, which came to me by the same penny-post. From my own apartment “HonourED SIR, near Charing-cross. “Having heard that this nation is a great encourager of ingenuity, I have brought with me a rope-dancer that was caught in one of the woods belonging to the great Mogul. He is by birth a monkey; but swings upon a rope, takes a pipe of tobacco, and drinks a o of ale, like any reasonable creature. He #. great satisfaction to the quality; and if they will make a o for him, I will send for a brother of his out of Holland, that is a very good tumbler; and also for another of the same family whom I design for my merryAndrew, as being an excellent mimic, and the greatest droll in the country where he now is. I hope to have this entertainment in readiness for the next winter; and doubt not but it will please more than the opera, or puppet-show. I will not say that a monkey is a better man than some of the opera heroes; but certainly he is a better #. of a man, than the most artificial composition of wood and wire. If you will be pleased to give me a good word in your paper, you shall be every night a spectator at my show for nothing. C. I am, &c.”

[ocr errors][merged small]

Both tongues united sweeter sounds produce, Like Chian mix'd with the Falernian juice. THERE is nothing that has more startled our English audience, than the Italian recitativo at its first entrance upon the stage. People were wonderfully surprised to hear generals singing the word of command, and ladies delivering messages in music. Our countrymen, could not forbear laughing When they heard a lover chanting out a billet-doux, and even the superscription of a letter set to a tune. The famous blunder in an old play of “Enter a king and two fiddlers solus,” was now no longer an ab

surdity, when it was impossible for a hero in a desert, or a princess in her closet, to speak any thing unaccompanied with musical instruments. But however this Italian method of acting in recitativo might appear at first hearing, I cannot but think it much more just than that which prevailed in our English opera before this innovation: the transition from an air to recitative music being more natural, than the passing from a song to plain and ordinary speaking, which was the common method in Purcell's operas. The only fault I find in our present practice, is the making use of the Italian recitativo with English words. To go to the bottom of this matter, I must observe, that the tone, or (as the French call it) the accent of every nation in their ordinary speech, is altogether different from that of any other people; as we may see even in the Welch and Scotch, who border so near upon us. By the tone or accent, I do not mean the pronunciation of each particular word, but the sound of the whole sentence. Thus it is very common for an English gentleman, when he hears a French tragedy, to complain that the actors all of them speak in a tone; and therefore he very wisely prefers his own countrymen, not considering that a foreigner complains of the same tone in an English actor. For this reason, the recitative music, in every language, should be as different as the tone or accent of each language; for otherwise, what may properly express a passion in one language will not do it in another. Every one who has been long in Italy knows very well, that the cadences in the recitativo bear a remote affinity to the tone of their voices in ordinary conversation, or, to speak more properly, are only the accents of their language made more musical and tuneful. Thus the notes of interrogation, or admiration, in the Italian music (if one may so call them) which resemble their accents in discourse on such occasions, are not unlike the ordinary tones of an English voice when we are angry; insomuch that I have often seen our audiences extremely mistaken, as to what has been doing upon the stage, and expecting to see the hero knock down his messenger, when he has been asking him a question; or fancying that he §. s with his friend, when he only bids him goodmorrow. For this reason the Italian artists cannot agree with our English musicians in admiring Purcell's compositions, and thinking his tunes so wonderfully adapted to his words; because both nations do not always express the same passions by the same sounds. I am therefore humbly of opinion, that an English composer should not follow the Italian recitative too servilely, but make use of many gentle deviations from it, in compliance with his own native language. He may copy out of it all the lulling soft

[ocr errors]

ness and “dying falls’ o Shakspeare calls them,) but should still remember that he ought to accommodate himself to an English audience: and by humouring the tone of our voices in ordinary conversation, have the same regard to the accent of his own language, as those persons had to theirs whom he professes to imitate. It is observed, that several of the singing birds of our own country learn to sweeten their voices, and mellow the harshness of their natural notes, by practising under those that come from warmer climates. In the same manner, I would allow the Italian opera to lend our English music as much as may grace and soften it, but never entirely to annihilate and destroy it. Let the infusion be as strong as you please, but still let the subject-matter of it be English. A composer should fit his music to the §. of the people, and consider that the elicacy of hearing, and taste of harmony, has been formed upon those sounds which every country abounds with. In short, that music is of a relative nature, and what is harmony to one ear, may be dissonance to another. The same observation which I have made upon the recitative part of music may be o to all our songs and airs in general. ignior Baptist Lully acted like a man of sense in this particular. He found the French music extremely defective, and very often barbarous. However, knowing the genius of the people, the humour of their language, and the prejudiced ears he had to deal with, he did not pretend to extirpate the French music, and plant the Italian in its stead; but only to cultivate and civilize it with innumerable graces and modulations which he borrowed from the Italians. By this means the French music is now perfect in its kind; and when you say it is not so good as the Italian, you onl mean that it does not please you so well; for there is scarce a Frenchman who would not wonder to hear you give the Italian such a preference, Thé music of the French is indeed very properly adapted to their pronunciation and accent, as their whole opera wonderfully favours the genius of such a gay airy people. The chorus in which that opera abounds, gives the parterre frequent opportunities of §: in concert with the stage. This inclination of the audience to sing along with the actors, so prevails with them, that I have sometimes known the performer on the stage to do no more in a celebrated song, than the clerk of a parish church, who serves only to raise the psalm, and is afterwards drowned in the music of the congregation. Every actor that comes on the stage is a beau. The queens and heroines are so painted, that they appear as ruddy and cherry-cheeked as milk-maids. The shepherds are all embroidered, and acquit themselves in a ball better than our English dancing-masters... I have seen a couple of rivers apoa, in red stockings;

and Alpheus, instead of having his head covered with sedge and bull-rushes, making love in a full-bottomed periwig and a plume of feathers; but with a voice so full of shakes and quavers, that I should have thought the murmurs of a country brook the much more agreeable music. I remember the last opera I saw in that merry nation was the Rape of Proserpine, where Pluto, to make the more tempting figure, puts himself in a French equipage, and brings Ascalaphus along with him as his valet de chambre. This is what we call folly and impertinence: but what the French look upon as gay and polite. I shall add no more to what I have here offered, than that music, architecture, and painting, as well as poetry and oratory, are to deduce their laws and rules from the general sense and taste of mankind, and not from the principles of those arts themselves; or, in other words, the taste is not to conform to the art, but the art to the taste. Music is not designed to please only chromatic ears, but all that is capable of distinguishing harsh from disagreeable notes. A man of an ordinary ear is a judge whether a passion is expressed in proper sounds, and whether the melody of those sounds be more or less pleasing. C.

[ocr errors][merged small]

If nothing, as Mimnermus strives to prove,

Can e'er be pleasant without mirth and love,
Then live in mirth and love, thy sports pursue.

Creech. ONE common calamity makes men extremely affect each other, though they differin every other particular. The passion of love is the most general concern among men; and I am glad to hear by my last advices from Oxford, that there are a set of sighers in that university, who have erectthemselves into a society in honour of that tender passion. These gentlemen are of that sort of inamoratos, who are not so very much lost to common sense, but that they understand the folly they are guilty of; and for that reason separate themselves from all other company, because they will enjoy the pleasure of talking incoherently, without being ridiculous to any but each other. When a man comes into the club, he is not obliged to make any introduction to his discourse, but at once, as he is seating himself in his chair, speaks in the thread of his own thoughts, “She gave me a very obliging glance, she never looked so well in her life as this evening;’ or the like reflection without regard to any other member of the society; for in this assembly they do not meet to talk to each other; but every man claims the full liberty of o

to himself. Instead of snuff-boxes an canes, which are the usual helps to dis

course with other young fellows, these have each some piece of riband, a broken fan, or an old girdle, which they play with while they talk of the fair person remembered by each respective token. According to the representation of the matter from my letters, the company j. like so many players rehearsing behind the scenes; one is sighing and lamenting his destiny in beseeching terms, another declaiming he will break his chain, and another, in dumb-show, striving to express his passion by his gesture. It is very ordinary in the assembly for one of a sudden to rise and make a discourse concerning his passion in general, and describe the temper of his mind in such a manner, as that the whole company shall join in the description, and feel the force of it. In this case, if any man has declared the violence of his flame in more pathetic terms, he is made president for that night, out of respect to his superior passion. We had some years ago in this town a set of people who met and dressed like lovers, and were distinguished by the name of the Fringe-glove club; but they were ersons of such moderate intellects, even efore they were impaired by their passion, that their irregularities could not furnish sufficient variety of so to afford daily new impertinences; by which means that institution dropped. These fellows could express their passion in nothing but their dress; but the Oxonians are fantastical now they are lovers, in proportion to their learning and understanding before they became such. The thoughts of the ancient poets on this agreeable frenzy are translated in honour of some modern beauty; and Chloris is won to-day by the same compliment that was made to Lesbia a thousand years ago. But as far as I can learn, the patron of the club is the renowned Don Quixote. The adventures of that gentle knight are frequently mentioned in the society under the colour of laughing at the passion and themselves: but at the same time, though they are sensible of the extravagancies of that unhappy warrior, they do not observe, that to turn all the reading of the best and wisest writings into rhapsodies of love, is a frenzy no less diverting than that of the aforesaid accombioi Spaniard. A gentleman who, I hope, will continue his correspondence, is lately admitted into the fraternity, and sent me the following letter:

“SIR---Since I find you take notice of clubs, I beg leave to give you an account of one in Oxford, which you have no where mentioned, and perhaps never heard of. We distinguish ourselves by the title of the Amorous Club, are all votaries of Cupid, and admirers of the fair sex. The reason that we are so little known in the world, is the secrecy which we are obliged to live under in the university, Our constitution

runs counter to that of the place wherein we live: for in love there are no doctors, and we all P. so high a passion, that we admit of no graduates in it. Our preop is bestowed according to the dignity of the passion; our number is unlimited; and our statutes are like those of the Druids, recorded in our own breasts only, and “R. by the majority of the company. mistress, and a poem in her praise, will introduce any candidate. Without the latter no one can be admitted; for he that is not in love enough to rhyme, is unqualified for our society. To speak disrespectfully of any woman is expulsion from our gentle society. As we are at present all of us gown-men, instead of duelling when we are rivals, we drink together the health of our mistress. The manner of doing this sometimes indeed creates debates; on such occasions we have recourse to the rules of love among the ancients. “Navia sex cyathis, septem Justina bibatur.” JMart. Epig. i. 72. “Six cups to Narvia, to Justina seven.”

This method of a glass to every letter of her name, occasioned the other night a dispute of some warmth. A young student who is in love with Mrs. Elizabeth Dimple, was so unreasonable as to begin her health under the name of Elizabetha ; which so exasperated the club, that by common consent we retrenched it to Betty. We look upon a man as no company that does not sigh five times in a quarter of an hour; and look upon a member as very absurd, that is so much himself as to make a direct answer to a question. . In fine, the whole assembly is made up of absent men, that is, of such persons as have lost their locality, and whose minds and bodies never keep company with one another. As I am an unfortunate member of this distracted society, you cannot expect a o, regular account of it; for which reason I hope you will pardon me that I so abruptly subscribe myself, Sir, your most obedient humble servant, T. L.

“I forgot to tell you, that Albina, who has six votaries in this club, is one of your readers.” *

No. 31.] Thursday, Ahril 5, 1711. Sit mihi fas audita loqui Virg. JEn. vi. 266. What I have heard, permit me to relate. LAST night, upon my going into a coffeehouse not far from the Haymarket theatre, I diverted myself for above half an hour with overhearing the discourse of one, who, by the shabbiness of his dress, the extravagance of his conceptions, and the hurry of his speech, I discovered to be of that species who are generally distinguished by the title of Projectors. This gentleman, for I found he was treated as such by his audience, was entertaining a whole table

« AnteriorContinuar »