« AnteriorContinuar »
Mr. Spectator,” applying himself to me, “to take care how you meddle with country squires. They are the ornaments of the English nation; men of good heads and sound bodies! and, let me tell you, some of them take it ill of you, that you mention fox-hunters with so little respect.” Captain Sentry spoke very, sparingly on this occasion. What he said was only to commend my prudence in not touching upon the army, and advised me to continue to act discreetly in that point. But by this time I found every subject of my speculations was taken away from me, by one or other of the club; and began to think myself in the condition of the good man that had one wife who took a dislike to his grey hairs, and another to his black, till by their picking out what each of them had an aversion to, they left his head altogether bald and naked. While I was thus musing with myself, my worthy friend the clergyman, who, very luckily for me, was at the club that night, undertook my cause. He told us, that he wondered any order of persons should think themselves too considerable to be advised. That it was not quality, but innocence, which exempted men from reproof. That vice and folly ought to be attacked wherever they could be met with, and especially when they were placed in high and conspicuous stations of life. He further added, that my paper would only serve to aggravate the pains of poverty, if it chiefly exposed those who are already depressed, and in some measure turned into ridicule, by the meanness of their conditions and circumstances. He afterwards proceeded to take notice of the great use this #. might be of to the public, by repreending those vices which are too trivial for the chastisement of the law, and too fantastical for the cognizance of the pulpit. He then advised me to prosecute my undertaking with cheerfulness, and assured me, that whoever might be displeased with me, I should be approved by all those whose praises do honour to the persons on whom they are bestowed. The whole club pay a particular deference to the discourse of this gentleman, and are drawn into what he says, as much by the candid ingenuous manner with which he delivers himself, as by the strength of argument and force of reason which he makes use of Will Honeycomb immediately agreed that what he had said was right; and that, for his part, he would not insist upon the quarter which he had demanded for the ladies. Sir Andrew gave #. the city with the same frankness. The emplar would not stand out, and was followed by Sir Roger and the Captain; who all agreed that I should be at liberty to carry the war into what quarter I pleased; provided I continued to combat with criminals in a body, and to assault the vice without hurting the person, •
whatever degree or rank of men they may .
be found, I shall be deaf for the future to all the remonstrances that shall be made to me on this account. If Punch grows extravagant, I shall reprimand him very freely: if the stage becomes a nursery of folly and impertinence, I shall not be afraid to animadvert upon it. In short, if I meet with any thing in city, court or country, that shocks modesty or good manners, I shall use my utmost endeavours to make an example of it. I must, however, entreat every particular person who does me the honour to be a reader of this paper, never to think himself, or any one of his friends or enemies, aimed at in what is said; for I promise him, never to draw a faulty character which does not fit at least a thousand people, or to publish a single paper, that is not written in the § of benevolence, and with a love of mankind. C.
No. 35.] Tuesday, Ahril 10, 1711.
Risu ineptores ineptior nulla est.
AMoNG all kinds of writing, there is none in which authors are more apt to misca than in works of humour, as there is none in which they are more ambitious to excel. It is not an imagination that teems with monsters, a head that is filled with extravagant conceptions, which is capable of furnishing the world with diversions of this nature; and yet, if we look into the productions of several writers, who set up for men of humour, what wild irregular fancies, what unnatural distortions of i. do we meet with? If they speak nonsense, they believe they are talking humour, and when they have drawn together a scheme of absurd inconsistent ideas, they are not able to read it over to themselves without laughing. These poor gentlemen endeavour to o themselves the reputation of wits and humourists, by such monstrous conceits as almost qualify them for Bedlam; not consi– dering that humour should always lie under the check of reason, and that it requires the direction of the nicest judgment, by so much the more as it indulges itself in the most boundless freedoms. There is a kind of nature that is to be observed in this sort of compositions, as well as in all other; and a
certain regularity of thought which must discover the writer to be a man of sense, at the same time that he appears altogether given up to caprice. For my part, when I read the delirious mirth of an unskilful author, I cannot be so barbarous as to divert myself with it, but am rather apt to pity the man, than to laugh at any thing he writes. The deceased Mr. Shadwell, who had himself a great deal of the talent which I am treating of, represents an empty rake, in one of his plays, as very much surprised to hear one say, that breaking of windows was not humour; and I question not but several English readers will be as much startled to hear me affirm, that many of those raving incoherent pieces, which are often spread among us under odd chimerical titles, are rather the offsprings of a distempered brain than works of humour. It is indeed much easier to describe what is not humour, than what is; and very difficult to define it otherwise than as Cowley has done wit, by negatives. Were I to give my own notions of it, I would deliver them after Plato's manner, in a kind of allegory, and by supposing Humour to be a person, deduce to him all his qualifications, according to the following genealogy. Truth was the founder of the family, and the father of Sense. Good Sense was the father of Wit, who married a lady of collateral line called Mirth, by whom he had issue Humour. Humour therefore being the youngest of this illustrious family, and descended from parents of such different dispositions, is very various and unequal in his temper; sometimes you see him putting on grave looks and a solemn habit, sometimes airy in his behaviour and fantastic in his dress; insomuch that at different times he appears as serious as a judge, and as jocular as a Merry-Andrew. But as he has a great deal of the mother in his constitution, whatever mood he is in, he never fails to make his company laugh. But since there is an impostor abroad, who takes upon him the name of this young ntleman, and would willingly pass for im in the world, to the end that wellmeaning persons may not be imposed upon by cheats, I would desire my readers, when they meet with this pretender, to look into his parentage, and to examine him strictly, whether or no he be remotely allied to Truth, and lineally descended from Good Sense; if not, they may conclude him a counterfeit. They may likewise distinguish him by a loud and excessive laughter, in which he seldom gets his company to join with him. For as True Humour generally looks serious, while every body laughs about him; False Humour is always laughing, whilst everybody about him looks serious. I shall only add, if he has not in him a mixture of both parents, that is, if he would pass for the offspring of Wit without Mirth, or Mirth without Wit, you may
conclude him to be altogether spurious and a cheat. The impostor of whom I am speaking, descends originally from Falsehood, who was the mother of Nonsense, who was brought to bed of a son called Frenzy, who married one of the daughters of Folly, commonly known by the name of Laughter, on whom he begot that monstrous infant of which I have been speaking. I shall set down at length the genealogical table of False Humour, and, at the same time, place under it the genealogy of True Humour, that the reader may at one view behold their different pedigrees and relations:
Falsehood. Nonsense. Frenzy.—Laughter. False Humour.
I might extend the allegory, by mentioning several of the children of False Humour, who are more in number than the sands of the sea, and might in particular enumerate the many sons and daughters which he has begot in this island. But as this would be a very invidious task, I shall only observe in general, that False Humour differs from the True, as a monkey does from a man.
First of all, He is exceedingly given to little apish tricks and buffooneries.
Secondly, He so much delights in mimickry, that it is all one to him whether he exposes by it vice and folly, luxury and avarice; or on the contrary, virtue and wisdom, pain and poverty.
Thirdly, He is wonderfully unlucky, insomuch that he will bite the hand that feeds him, and endeavour to ridicule both friends and foes indifferently. For having but small talents, he must be merry where he can, not where he should.
Fourthly, Being entirely void of reason, he pursues no point, either of morality or instruction, but is ludicrous only for the sake of being so.
Fifthly, Being incapable of anything but mock representations, his ridicule is always personal, and aimed at the vicious man, or the writer; not at the vice, or the writing.
I have here only pointed at the whole species of false humourists; but as one of my principal designs in this paper is to beat down that malignant spirit, which discovers itself in the writings of the present age, I shall not scruple, for the future, to single out any of the small wits, that infest the world with such compositions as are ill-natured, immoral, and absurd. This is the only exception which I shall make to the general rule I have prescribed myself, .# attacking multitudes, since every honest man ought to look upon himself as in a natural state of war with the libeller and lampooner, and to annoy them whenever they fall in his way. This is but retaliating upon them, and treating them as they treat others. C.
No. 36.] Wednesday, Ahril 11, 1711.
I shall not § myself to any farther ains for this day’s entertainment, than arely to publish the letters and titles of petitions from the playhouse, with the minutes I have made upon the latter for my conduct in relation to them.
“Drury-lane, April the 9th.
“Upon reading the project which is set forth in one of your late papers, of making an alliance between all the bulls, bears, elephants, and lions, which are separately exposed to public view in the cities of London and Westminster; together with the other wonders, shows, and monsters, whereof you made respective mention in the said speculation; we, the chief actors of this playhouse, met and sat upon the said design. It is with great delight that we expect the execution of this work; and in order to contribute to it we have given warning to all our ghosts to get their livelihoods where they can, and not to appear among us after day-break of the 16th instant. We are resolved to take this opportunity to part with everything which does not contribute to the representation of human life; and shall make a free gift of all animated utensils to your projector. The hangings you formerly mentioned are run away; as are likewise a set of chairs, each of which was met upon two legs going through the Rose tavern at two this morning. e hope, sir, you will give proper notice to the town that we are endeavouring at these regulations; and that we intend for the future to show no monsters, but men who are converted into such by their own industry and affectation. If you will please to be at the house to-night, you will see me do my endeavour to show some unnatural appearances which are in vogue among the polite and well-bred. I am to represent, in the character of a fine lady dancing, all the distortions which are freo taken for graces in mien and gesture. This, sir, is a specimen of the methods we shall take to expose the monsters which come within the notice of a regular theatre; and we desire nothing more gross may be admitted by you Spectators for the future. We have cashiered three companies of theatrical guards, and design our kings shall for the future make love, and sit in council, without an army; and wait only your direction, whether you will have them reinforce king Porus, or join the troops of Macedon. Mr. Pinkethman resolves to consult his pantheon of heathen gods in
opposition to the oracle of o: and doubts not but he shall turn the fortune of Porus, when he personates him. I am desired by the company to inform you, that they submit to your censures, and shall have you in ater veneration than Hercules was of old, if you can drive monsters from the theatre; and think your merit will be as much greater than his, as to convince is more than to conquer. I am, sir, your most obedient servant, T. D.”
‘SIR,-When I acquaint you with the great and unexpected vicissitudes of my fortune, I doubt not but I shall obtain your pity and favour. I have for many years
ast been Thunderer to the playhouse; and É. not only made as much noise out of the clouds as any predecessor of mine in the theatre that ever bore that character, but also have descended and spoke on the stage as the bold Thunderer in ‘The Rehearsal.” When they got me down thus low, they thought fit to *: me further, and make me a ghost. was contented with this for these two last winters; but they carry their tyranny still further, and not satisfied that I am banished from above ground, they have given me to understand that I am wholly to depart their dominions, and taken from me even my subterraneous employment. Now, sir, what I desire of you is, that if your undertaker thinks fit to use fire-arms § other authors have done,) in the time of Alexander, I may be a cannon against Porus, or else provide for me in the burning of Persepolis, or what other method you shall think fit.
“SALMonEus, of Covent Garden.”
The petition of all the Devils in the playhouse in behalf of themselves and families, setting forth their expulsion from thence, with certificates of their good life and conversation, and praying relief.
The merits of this petition referred to Mr. Chr. Rich, who made them devils.
The petition of the Grave-digger in Hamlet, to command the pioneers in the expedition of Alexander. Granted.
The petition of William Bullock, to be Hephestion to Pinkethman the Great. Granted.
A widow gentlewoman, well born both by father and mother's side, being the daughter of Thomas Prater, once an eminent practitioner in the law, and of Letitia Tattle, a family well known in all parts of this kingdom, having been reduced by misfortunes to wait on several great persons, and for some time to be a teacher at a boarding-school of young ladies, giveth notice to the public, that she hath lately taken a house near Bloomsbury-square, commodiously situated next the fields, in a good air; where she teaches all sorts of birds of the loquacious kind, as parrots, starlings, magpies, and others, to imitate human voices in greater perfection than ever was yet practised. They are not only instructed to pronounce words distinctly, and in a proper tone and accent, but to speak the language with great purity and volubility of tongue, together with all the fashionable phrases and compliments now in use, either at tea-tables or visiting-days. Those that have good voices may be taught to sing the newest operaairs, and if required, to speak either Italian or French, paying something extraordinary above the common
rates. They whose friends are not able to pay the full prices, may be taken as half boarders. She teaches such as are designed for the diversion of the public, and to act in enchanted woods on the theatres, by the great. As she has often observed with much concern how indecent an education is usually given these innocent treatures, which in some measure is owing to their be. ing placed in rooms next the street, where, to the great offence of chaste and tender ears, they learn ribaldry, obscene songs, and immodest expressions from passengers, and idle people, as also to cry fish and cardmatches, with other useless parts of learning to birds who have rich friends, she has fitted up proper and neat apartments for them in the back part of her said house; where she suffers none to approach them but herself, and a servant maid who is deaf and dumb, and whom she provided on purpose to prepare their food, and cleanse their cages; having found by long experience, how hard a thing it is for those to keep silence who have the use of speech, and the dangers her scholars are exposed to by the strong impressions that are made by sounds, and dialects. In short, if they are birds of any parts or capacity, she will undertake to render them so accomplished in the compass of a twelvemonth, that they shall befit conversation for such ladies as love to choose their friends and companions out of this species. R.
SoME months ago, my friend Sir Roger, being in the country, enclosed a letter to me, directed to a certain lady whom I shall here call by the name of Leonora, and as it contained matters of consequence, desired me to deliver it to her with my own hand. Accordingly I waited upon her ladyship pretty early in the morning, and was desired by her woman to walk into the lady’s library, till such time as she was in readiness to receive me. The very sound of a lady’s library gave me a great curiosity to see it; and as it was some time before the lady came to me, I had an opportunity of turning over a great many of her books, which were ranged together in a very beautiful order. At the end of the folios (which were finely bound, and gilt) were great jars of china placed one above another in a very noble piece of architecture. The quartos were separated from the octavos by a pile of smaller vessels, which rose in a delightful pyramid. The octavos were bounded by tea-dishes of all shapes, colours, and sizes, which were so di On a wooden frame, that they looked like one continued pillar indented with the finest strokes of sculpture, and stained with the test variety of dies. That part of the ibrary which was designed for the reception of plays and pamphlets, and other loose papers, was enclosed in a kind of square, consisting of one of the prettiest grotesque works that I ever saw, and made up of scaramouches, lions, monkies, mandarines, trees, shells, and a thousand other odd figures in china ware. In the midst of the room was a small ja table with a quire of gilt paper upon it, and on the pa. per a silver snuff-box made in the shape of
a little book. I found there were several other counterfeit books upon the upper shelves, which were carved in wood, and served only to fill up the numbers, li faggots in the muster of a o was wonderly pleased with such a mixed kind of furniture, as seemed very suitable both to the lady and the scholar, and did not know at first whether I should fancy myself in a grotto or in a library.
Upon my looking into the books, I found there were some few which the lady had bought for her own use, but that most of them had been got together, either because she had heard them praised, or because she had seen the authors of them. Among several that I examined, I very well remember tho, §:
Sir Isaac Newton’s Works.
The Grand Cyrus; with a pin stuck in
one of the middle leaves. Pembroke’s Arcadia. Locke on Human Understanding; with a
paper of patches in it. A Spelling }. A Dictionary for the explanation of hard words. Sherlock upon Death. The fifteen comforts of Matrimony. Sir William Temple’s Essays.
Father Malebranche's Search after Truth, translated into English. A Book of Novels. §. Academ # opments ulpepper's Midwifery. The #. Calling. Tales in Verse, by Mr. Durfey; bound in red leather, gilt on the back, and doubled down in several places. All the Classic Authors in wood. A set of Elzevirs by the same hand. Clelia: which opened of itself in the place that describes two lovers in a bower, Baker’s Chronicle. Advice to a Daughter. The New Atalantis, with a Key to it. Mr. Steele's Christian Hero. A Prayer-Book: with a bottle of Hungary water by the side of it. Dr. Sacheverell’s Speech. Fielding’s Trial.
I was taking a catalogue in my pocketbook of these, and several other authors, when Leonora entered, and upon my presenting her with a letter from the so told me, with an unspeakable grace, that she hoped Sir Roger was in ...?'...i. I answered Yes, for I hate long speeches, and after a bow or two retired.
Leonora was formerly a celebrated beau
ty, and is still avery lovely woman. She has been a widow for two or three years, and being unfortunate in her first marriage, has taken a resolution never to venture upon a second. She has no children to take care of, and leaves the management of her estate to my good friend Sir Roger. But as the mind naturally sinks into a kind of lethargy, and falls asleep, that is not agitated by some favourite pleasures and pursuits, Leonora has turned all the passions of her sex into a love of books and retirement. She converses chiefly with men (as she has often said .#) but it is only in their writings; and admits of very few male visitants, except my friend Sir Roger, whom she hears with great pleasure, and without scandal. As her reading has lain very much among romances, it has given her a very particular turn of thinking, and discovers itself even in her house, her gardens, and her furniture. Sir Roger has entertained me an hour together with a description of her country seat, which is situated in a kind of wilderness, about a hundred miles distant from London, and looks like a little enchanted palace. The rocks about her are shaped into artificial grottos covered with woodbines and jasmines. The woods are cut into shady walks, twisted into bowers, and filled with cages of turtles. The springs are made to run among pebbles, and by that means taught to murmur very agreeably. They are likewise collected into a beautiful lake that is inhabited by a couple of swans, and empties itself by a little rivulet which runs through a en meadow, and is known in the family by the name of “The Purling Stream.” The knight likewise tells me, that this lady preserves her #. better than any of the gentlemen in the country, not (says Sir Roso that she sets so great a value upon
er partridges and pheasants, as upon her larks and nightingales. For she says that every bird which is killed in her ground, will spoil a concert, and that she shall cer
e-tainly miss him the next year.
hen I think how oddly this lady is improved by learning, I look upon her with a mixture of admiration and pity. Amidst these innocent entertainments which she has formed to herself, how much more valuable does she appear than those of her sex, who employ themselves in diversions that are less reasonable though more in fashion? What improvements would a woman have made, who is so susceptible of impressions from what she reads, had she been guided to such books as have a tendency to enlighten the understanding and rectify the passions, as well as to those which are of a little more use than to divert the
the sex. And as this is a subject of a ve nice nature, I shall desire my correspondents to give me their thoughts upon it. C.
No. 38.] Friday, Ahril 13, 1711. Cupias non placuisse nimis.--Mart.
One would not please too much.
A LATE conversation which I fell into, i. me an opportunity of observing a great eal of beauty in a very handsome woman, and as much wit in an ingenious man, turned into deformity in the one, and absurdity in the other, by the mere force of affectation. The fair one had something in her person, upon which her thoughts were fixed, that she attempted to show to advantage in every look, word, and gesture. The gentleman was as diligent to do justice to his fine parts, as the lady to her beauteous form. You might see his imagination on the stretch to find out something uncommon, and what they call bright, to entertain her, while she writhed herself into as many different postures to engage him. When she laughed, her lips were to sever at a greater distance than ordinary, to show her teeth; her fan was to point to something at a distance, that in the reach she may discover the roundness of her arm; then she is utterly mistaken in what she saw, falls back, smiles at her own folly, and is so wholly discomposed, that her tucker is to be adjusted, her bosom exposed, and the whole woman put into new airs and graces. . While she was doing all this, the gallant had time to think of something very pleasant to say next to her, or make some unkind observation on some other lady to feed her vanity. These unhappy effects of affectation, naturally led me to look into that strange state of mind which so generally discolours the behaviour of most people we meet with. The learned Dr. Burnet, in his “Theory of the Earth,’ takes occasion to observe, that every thought is attended with a consciousness and representativeness; the mind has nothing presented to it but what is immediately followed by a reflection of conscience, which tells you whether that which was so presented is graceful or unbecoming. This act of the mind discovers itself in the gesture, by a proper behaviour in those whose consciousness goes no further than to direct them in the just progress of their present state or action; but betrays an interruption in every second thought, when the consciousness is employed in too fondly approving a man's own conceptions; which sort of consciousness is what we call affectation. As the love of praise is implanted in our bosoms as a strong incentive to worthy actions, it is a very difficult task to get above a desire of it for things that should be wholly indifferent. Women whose hearts are