« AnteriorContinuar »
Hor. Ars Poet. v. 303.
Epig. 3. 1.
deavoured to make nothing ridiculous that that Socrates used to frequent the cne, and is not in some measure criminal. I have set Cicero the other. up the immoral man as the object of deri It happened once, indeed, that Cato sion. In short, if I have not formed a new dropped into the Roman theatre when the weapon against vice and irreligion, I have Floralia were to be represented; and as, in at least shown how that weapon may be put that performance, which was a kind of reto a right use, which has so often fought the ligious ceremony, there were several inbattles of impiety and profaneness. decent parts to be acted, the people re
fused to see them whilst Cato was present.
Martial, on this hint, made the following No. 446.] Friday, August 1, 1712. epigram, which we must suppose was ap.
plied to some grave friend of his, that had Quid deceat, quid non; quo virtus, quo ferat error.
been accidentally present at some such enWhat fit, what not: what excellent, or ill.
Nosses jocosæ dulce cum sacrum Floræ, Since two or three writers of comedy, Festosque lusus, et licentiuin vulgi, who are living, have taken their farewell Cur in theatrum, Cato severe, venisti?
An ideo tantum veneras, ut exires ?' of the stage, those who succeed them, finding themselves incapable of rising up to
Why dost thou come, great censor of thy age,
To see the loose diversions of the stage their wit, humour, and good sense, have With awful countenance, and brow serere, only imitated them in some of those loose What in the name of goodness dost thou here? unguarded strokes, in which they complied
See the mixt crowd! how giddy, lewd, and vain!
Didst thou come in but to go out again? with the corrupt taste of the more vicious part of their audience. When persons of a An accident of this nature might happen low genius attempt this kind of writing, once in an age among the Greeks and Rothey know no difference between being mans; but they were too wise and good to merry and being lewd. It is with an eye let the constant nightly entertainment be of to some of these degenerate compositions such a nature, that people of the most sense that I have written the following discourse. and virtue could not be at it. Whatever
Were our English stage but half so vir- vices are represented upon the stage, they tuous as that of the Greeks and Romans, ought to be so marked and branded by the we should quickly see the influence of it in poet, as not to appear either laudable or the behaviour of all the politer part of man- amiable in the person who is tainted with kind. It would not be fashionable to ridi-them. But if we look into the English comecule religion; or its professors; the man of dies above-mentioned, we would think they pleasure would not be the complete gentle were formed upon a quite contrary maxim, man; vanity would be out of countenance; and that this rule, though it held good upon and every quality which is ornamental to the heathen stage, was not to be regarded human nature would meet with that esteem in christian theatres. There is another which is due to it.
rule likewise, which was observed by auIf the English stage were under the same thors of antiquity; and which these modern regulations the Athenian was formerly, it geniuses have no regard to, and that was, would have the same effect that had, in re never to choose an improper subject for commending the religion, the government, ridicule. Now a subject is improper for riand public worship of its country. Were dicule, if it is apt to stir up horror and comour plays subject to proper inspections and miseration rather than laughter. For this imitations, we might not only pass away reason, we do not find any comedy, in so several of our vacant hours in the highest polite an author as Terence, raised upon entertainments, but should always rise from the violations of the marriage-bed. The them wiser and better than we sat down to falsehood of the wife or husband has given them.
occasion to noble tragedies; but a Scipio It is one of the most unaccountable things and Lelius would have looked upon incest in our age, that the lewdness of our theatre or murder to have been as proper subjects should be so much complained of, so well for comedy. On the contrary, cuckoldom exposed, and so little redressed. It is to be is the basis of most of our modern plays hoped, that some time or other we may be if an alderman appears upon the stage, you at leisure to restrain the licentiousness of may be sure it is in order to be cuckolded
. the theatre, and make it contribute its A husband that is a little grave or elderly, assistance to the advancement of morality, generally meets with the same fate. Knights and to the reformation of the age. As mat- and baronets, country 'squires, and justices ters stand at present, multitudes are shut of the quorum, come up to town for no out from this noble diversion, by reason of other purpose. I have seen poor Dogget those abuses and corruptions that accom- cuckolded in all these capacities. In short
, pany it. A father is often afraid that his our English writers are as frequently daughter should be ruined by those enter- upon this innocent unhappy creature, come tainments, which were invented for the ac- monly known by the name of a cuckold, as complishment and refining of human na- the ancient comic writers were upon an ture. The Athenian and Roman plays were eating parasite, or a vain-glorious soldier. written with such a regard to morality, At the same time the poet so contrives
matters, that the two criminals are the fa- | served, may lead us into very useful rules vourites of the audience. We sit still, and of life. What I shall here take notice of in wish well to them through the whole play, custom, is its wonderful efficacy in making are pleased when they meet with proper every thing pleasant to us. A person who opportunities, and out of humour when they is addicted to play or gaming, though he are disappointed. The truth of it is, the took but little delight in it at first, by deaccomplished gentleman upon the English grees contracts so strong an inclination tostage, is the person that is familiar with wards it, and gives himself up so entirely other men's wives, and indifferent to his to it, that it seems the only end of his being. own; as the fine woman is generally a com- The love of a retired or busy life will grow position of sprightliness and falsehood. I upon a man insensibly, as he is conversant do not know whether it proceeds from bar- in the one or the other, till he is utterly renness of invention, depravation of man- unqualified for relishing that to which he ners, or ignorance of mankind, but I have has been for some time disused. Nay, a often wondered that our ordinary poets man may smoke, or drink, or take snuff, cannot frame to themselves the idea of a till he is unable to pass away his time withfine man who is not a whore-master, or a out it; not to mention how our delight in fine woman that is not a jilt.
any particular study, art, or science, rises I have sometimes thought of compiling and improves, in proportion to the applicaa system of ethicks out of the writings tion which we bestow upon it. Thus, what of those corrupt poets under the title of was at first an exercise becomes at length Stage Morality. But I have been diverted an entertainment. Our employments are from this thought by a project which has changed into our diversions. The mind been executed by an ingenious gentleman grows fond of those actions she is accusof my acquaintance. He has composed, it tomed to, and is drawn with reluctancy seems, the history of a young fellow who from those paths in which she has been has taken all his notions of the world from used to walk. the stage, and who has directed himself in Not only such actions as were at first inevery circumstance of his life and conver- different to us, but even such as are painful, sation, by the maxims and examples of the will by custom and practice become pleafine gentleman in English comedies. If I sant. Sir Francis Bacon observes, in his can prevail upon him to give me a copy of Natural Philosophy, that our taste is never this new-fashioned novel, I will bestow on pleased better than with those things which it a place in my works, and question not at first created disgust in it. He gives parbut it may have as good an effect upon the ticular instances, of claret, coffee, and other drama as Don Quixote had upon romance. liquors, which the palate seldom approves
C. upon the first taste; but, when it has once
got a relish of them, generally retains it
for life. The mind is constituted after the No. 447.] Saturday, August 2, 1712.
same manner, and after having habituated
herself to any particular exercise or emΦημι πολυχρονιην μελετην εμεναι, φιλε και δη ployment, not only loses her first aversion
towards it, but conceives a certain fondness Long exercise, my friend, inures the mind;
and affection for it. I have heard one of the And what we once dislik'd we pleasing find.
greatest geniuses this age has produced, * There is not a common saying which who had been trained up in all the polite has a better turn of sense in it, than what studies of antiquity, assure me, upon his we often hear in the mouths of the vulgar, being obliged to search into several rolls that custom is a second nature.' It is in- and records, that notwithstanding such an deed able to form the man anew, and to employment was at first very dry and irkgive him inclinations and capacities alto- some to him, he at last took an incredible gether different from those he was born pleasure in it, and preferred it even to the with. Dr. Plot, in his History of Stafford reading of Virgil or Cicero. The reader shire, tells us of an idiot that, chancing to will observe, that I have not here consilive within the sound of a clock, and always dered custom as it makes things easy, but amusing himself with counting the hour of as it renders them delightful; and though the day whenever the clock struck, the others have often made the same reflecclock being spoiled by accident, the idiot tions, it is possible they may not have continued to strike and count the hour drawn those uses from it, with which I inwithout the help of it, in the same manner tend to fill the remaining part of this paper. as he had done when it was entire. Though If we consider attentively this property I dare not vouch for the truth of this story, of human nature, it may instruct us in very it is very certain that custom has a me- fine moralities. In the first place, I would chanical effect upon the body at the same have no man discouraged with that kind of time that it has a very extraordinary influ-life, or series of action, in which the choice ence upon the mind.
of others or his own necessities may have I shall in this paper consider one very engaged him. It may, perhaps, be very remarkable effect which custom has upon human nature, and which, if rightly ob
* Dr. Atterbury. VOL. II.
Ταυτην ανθρωποισι τελευτωσαν φυσιν ειναι.
disagreeable to him at first; but use and are to make us happy in the next. The application will certainly render it not only seeds of those spiritual joys and raptures, less painful, but pleasing and satisfactory. which are to rise up and flourish in the soul
In the second place, I would recommend to all eternity, must be planted in her durto every one that admirable precept which ing this her present state of probation. In Pythagoras is said to have given to his dis- short, heaven is not to be looked upon only ciples, and which that philosopher must as the reward, but as the natural effect of have drawn from the observation I have a religious life. enlarged upon, Optimum vitæ genus eli On the other hand, those evil spirits, gito, nam consuetudo faciet jucondissimum: who, by long custom, have contracted in
Pitch upon that course of life which is the the body habits of lust and sensuality, mamost excellent, and custom will render it lice and revenge, and aversion to every the most delightful.' Men, whose circum- thing that is good, just, or laudable, are stances will permit them to choose their naturally seasoned and prepared for pain own way of life, are inexcusable if they do and misery. Their torments have already not pursue that which their judgment tells taken root in them; they cannot be happy them is the most laudable. The voice of when divested of the body, unless we may reason is more to be regarded than the bent suppose, that Providence will in a manner of any present inclination, since, by the rule create them anew, and work a miracle in above-mentioned, inclination will at length the rectification of their faculties. They come over to reason, though we can never may, indeed, taste a kind of malignant force reason to comply with inclination. pleasure in those actions to which they are
In the third place, this observation may accustomed, whilst in this life; but when teach the most sensual and irreligious man they are removed from all those objects to overlook those hardships and difficulties which are here apt to gratify them, they which are apt to discourage him from the will naturally become their own tormentprosecution of a virtuous life. The gods,' ors, and cherish in themselves those painful said Hesiod, have placed labour before habits of mind which are called, in scrip, virtue: the way to her at first rough and ture phrase, “the worm which never dies.' difficult, but grows more smooth and easy This notion of heaven and hell is so very the farther you advance in it.' The man conformable to the light of nature, that it who proceeds in it with steadiness and re-was discovered by several of the most exsolution, will in a little time find that'her alted heathens. It has been finely improved ways are ways of pleasantness, and that all by many eminent divines of the last age, as her paths are peace.'
in particular by archbishop Tillotson and To enforce this consideration, we may Dr. Sherlock: but there is none who has farther observe, that the practice of reli- raised such noble speculations upon it as gion will not only be attended with that Dr. Scot, in the first book of his Christian pleasure which naturally accompanies those Life, which is one of the finest and most actions to which we are habituated, but with rational schemes of divinity that is written those supernumerary joys of heart that rise in our tongue, or in any other. That excelfrom the consciousness of such a pleasure, lent author has shown how every particular from the satisfaction of acting up to the dic- custom and habit of virtue will, in its own tates of reason, and from the prospect of nature, produce the heaven, or a state of a happy immortality.
happiness, in him who shall hereafter pracIn the fourth place, we may learn from tise it: as on the contrary, how every cus. this observation, which we have made on tom or habit of vice will be the natural the mind of man, to take particular care, hell of him in whom it subsists. C. when we are once settled in a regular course of life, how we too frequently indulge ourselves in any the most innocent diversions No. 448.] Monday, August 4, 1712. and entertainments; since the mind may insensibly fall off from the relish of virtuous Fædius hoc aliquid quandoque audebis. actions, and, by degrees, exchange that pleasure which it takes in the performance
In time to greater baseness you'll proceed. of its duty, for delights of a much more in The first steps towards ill are very careferior and unprofitable nature.
fully to be avoided, for men insensibly go The last use which I shall make of this on when they are once entered, and do not remarkable property in human nature, of keep up a lively abhorrence of the least being delighted with those actions to which unworthiness. There is a certain frivolous it is accustomed, is to show how absolutely falschood that people indulge themselves necessary it is for us to gain habits of virtue in, which ought to be had in greater detestain this life, if we would enjoy the pleasures tion than it commonly meets with. What of the next. The state of bliss we call hea- I mean is a neglect of promises made on ven will not be capable of affecting those small and indifferent occasions, such as minds which are not thus qualified for it; parties of pleasure, entertainments, and we must, in this world, gain a relish of sometimes meetings cut of curiosity, in men truth and virtue, if we would be able to of like faculties, to be in each other's comtaste that knowledge and perfection, which pany. There are many causes to which one
Jud. Sat. i. 89
may assign this light infidelity. Jack Sippet great, that they subsist by still promising never keeps the hour he has appointed to on. I have heretofore discoursed of the income to a friend's to dinner; but he is an significant liar, the boaster, and the castleinsignificant fellow, who does it out of builder, and treated them as no ill-designvanity. He could never, he knows, make ing men (though they are to be placed any figure in company, but by giving a little among the frivolous false ones,) but persons disturbance at his entry, and therefore takes who fall into that way purely to recommend care to drop in when he thinks you are just themselves by their vivacities; but indeed I seated. He takes his place after having cannot let heedless promisers, though in discomposed every body, and desires there he most minute circumstances, pass with may be no ceremony; then does he begin to so slight a censure. If a man should take call himself the saddest fellow, in disap- a resolution to pay only sums above a hunpointing so many places as he was invited dred pounds, and yet contract with difto elsewhere. It is the fop's vanity to name ferent people debts of five and ten, how houses of better cheer, and to acquaint you long can we suppose he will keep his credit?
that he chose yours out of ten dinners which This man will as long support his good s he was obliged to be at that day. The last name in business, as he will in conversation,
time I had the fortune to eat with him, he who without difficulty makes assignations was imagining how very fat he should have which he is indifferent whether he keeps
been had he eaten all he had ever been in- or not. 3 vited to. But it is impertinent to dwell upon I am the more severe upon this vice, beand the manners of such a wretch as obliges all cause I have been so unfortunate as to be a
whom he disappoints, though his circum- very great criminal myself. Sir Andrew stances constrain them to be civil to him. Freeport, and all my other friends who are But there are those that every one would scrupulous to promises of the meanest conbe glad to see, who fall into the same de- sideration imaginable, from a habit of virtestable habit. It is a merciless thing that tue that way, have often uphraided me with
any one can be at ease, and suppose a set it. I take shame upon myself for this crime, 19 of people who have a kindness for him, at and more particularly for the greatest I e that moment waiting out of respect to him, ever committed of the sort, that when as
and refusing to taste their food or conversa- agreeable a company of gentlemen and tion, with the utmost impatience. One of ladies as ever were got together, and I forthese promisers sometimes shall make his sooth, Mr. Spectator, to be of the party excuses for not coming at all, so late that with women of merit, like a boohy as I was, half the company have only to lament, that mistook the time of meeting, and came the they have neglected matters of moment to night following. I wish every fool who is
meet him whom they find a trifler. They negligent in this kind, may have as great a * immediately repent of the value they had loss as I had in this; for the same company 343 for him; and 'such treatment repeated, will never meet more, but are dispersed
makes company never depend upon his into various parts of the world, and I am 3 promises any more; so that he often comes left under the compunction that I deserve,
at the middle of a meal, where he is secretly in so many different places to be called a
slighted by the persons with whom he eats, trifler. of and cursed by the servants, whose dinner This fault is sometimes to be accounted
is delayed by his prolonging their master's for, when desirable people are fearful of entertainment. It is wonderful that men appearing precise and reserved by denials; guilty this way could never have observed, but they will find the apprehension of that that the whiling time, and gathering to imputation will betray them into a childish gether, and waiting a little before dinner, impotence of mind, and make them prois the most awkwardly passed away of any mise all who are so kind to ask it of them. part in the four-and-twenty hours. "If they This leads such soft creatures into the misdid think at all, they would reflect upon fortune of seeming to return overtures of their guilt, in lengthening such a suspension good-will with ingratitude. The first steps of agreeable life. The constant offending in the breach of a man's integrity are much this way has, in a degree, an effect upon more important than men are aware of. the honesty of his mind who is guilty of it, The man who scruples not breaking his as common swearing is a kind of habitual word in little things, would not suffer in his perjury: it makes the soul unattentive to own conscience so great pain for failures of what an oath is, even while it utters it at consequence, as he who thinks every little the lips. Phocion beholding a wordy orator, offence against truth and justice a disparagewhile he was making a magnificent speech ment. We should not make any thing we to the people, full of vain promises; ' Me- ourselves disapprove habitual to us, if we thinks, said he, “I am now fixing my eyes would be sure of our integrity. upon a cypress tree; it has all the pomp and I remember a falsehood of the trivial beauty imaginable in its branches, leaves, sort, though not in relation to assignations, and height: but alas! it bears no fruit." that exposed a man to a very uneasy ad
Though the expectation which is raised venture. Will Trap and Jack Stint were by impertinent promises is thus barren, chamber-fellows in the Inner-Temple about their confidence, even after failures, is so I twenty-five years ago. They one night sat
in the pit together at a comedy, where they ings many descriptions given of ill persons, both observed and liked the same young and not any direct encomium made of those woman in the boxes. Their kindness for who are good. When I was convinced of her entered both hearts deeper than they this error, I could not but immediately call imagined. Stint had a good faculty in writ- to mind several of the fair sex of my acing letters of love, and made his address quaintance, whose characters deserve to be privately that way; while Trap proceeded transmitted to posterity in writings which in the ordinary course, by money and her will long outlive mine. But I do not think waiting-maid. The lady gave them both that a reason why I should not give them encouragement, received Trap into the ut- their place in my diurnal as long as it will most favour, answering at the same time last. For the service thereof of my female Stint's letters, and giving him appointments readers, I shall single out some characters at third places. Trap began to suspect the of maids, wives, and widows which deserve epistolary correspondence of his friend, and the imitation of the sex. She who shall discovered also that Stint opened all his let- lead this small illustrious number of heters which came to their common lodgings, roines shall be the amiable Fidelia. in order to form his own assignations. After Before I enter upon the particular parts much anxiety and restlessness, Trap came of her character, it is necessary to preface, to a resolution, which he thought would that she is the only child of a decrepid break off their commerce with one another father, whose life is bound up in hers. This without any hazardous explanation. He gentleman has used Fidelia from her cradle therefore writ a letter in a feigned
hand to with all the tenderness imaginable, and has Mr. Trap at his chambers in the Temple. viewed her growing perfections with the Stint, according to custom, seized and partiality of a parent, that soon thought opened it, and was not a little surprised to her accomplished above the children of all find the inside directed to himself, when, other men, but never thought she was come with great perturbation of spirit, he read to the utmost improvement of which she as follows: 103Y TIESU
herself was capable. This fondness has had Mr. STINT,—You have gained a slight very happy effects upon his own happiness; satisfaction at the expense of doing a very
for she reads, she dances, she sings, uses heinous crime. At the price of a faithful her spinet and lute to the utmost perfection; friend you have obtained an inconstant mis- and the lady's use of all these excellences tress. I rejoice in this expedient
I have is to divert the old man in his easy chair, thought of to break my mind to you,
and when he is out of the pangs of a chronical tell you, you are a base fellow, by a means distemper. Fidelia is now in the twentywhich does not expose you to the affront third year of her age; but the application except you deserve it. I know, sir, as
of many lovers, her vigorous time of life, criminal as you are, you have still shame her quick sense of all that is truly gallant enough to avenge yourself against the hardi- and elegant in the enjoyment of a plentiful ness of any
one that should publicly tell fortune, are not able to draw her from the you of it. "I therefore, who have received side of her good old father. Certain it is, so many secret hurts from you, shall take that there is no kind of affection so pure satisfaction with safety to myself. I call and angelic as that of a father to a daughter. you base, and you must bear it, or acknow- He beholds her both with and without reledge it; I triumph over you that you can- gard to her sex. In love to our wives there not come at me; nor do I think it disho- is desire, to our sons there is ambition; but nourable to come in armour to assault
him, in that to our daughters, there is something who was in ambuscade when he wounded life is designed wholly domestic, and she is
which there are no words to express. Her me.
What need more be said to convince so ready a friend and companion, that every you of being guilty of the basest practice thing that passes about a man is accomimaginable, than that it is such as has made panied with the idea of her presence. Her you liable to be treated after this manner, hazard, both as to fortune and innocence,
sex also is naturally so much exposed to while you yourself cannot in your own conscience but allow the justice of the upbraid that there is perhaps a new cause of fondings of your injured friend,
ness arising from that consideration also. RALPH TRAP.'
None but fathers can have a true sense of these sort of pleasures and sensations; but
my familiarity with the father of Fidelia, No. 449.] Tuesday, August 5, 1712.
makes me let'drop the words which I have
heard him speak, and observe upon his - Tibi scriptus, matrona, libellus.
tenderness towards her. Mart. iii. 68.
Fidelia, on her part, as I was going to say, A book the chastest matron may peruse. as accomplished as she is, with her beauty, WHEN I reflect upon my labours for the wit, air, and mien, employs her whole public, I cannot but observe, that part of time in care and attendance upon her fathe species, of which I profess myself a ther. How have I been charmed to see one friend and guardian, is sometimes treated of the most beautiful women the age has with severity; that is, there are in my writ- produced, on her knees, helping on an old