« ZurückWeiter »
22 THE SPECTATOR.
above a tenth part of them had been filled with money. The rest, that took up the same space, and made the same figure, as the bags that were really filled with money, had been blown up with air, and called into my memory the bags full of wind, which Homer tells us his hero received as a present from Aeolus. The great heaps of gold on either side of the throne, now appeared to be only heaps of paper, or little piles of notched sticks, bound up together in bundles, like Bath faggots. Whilst I was lamenting this sudden desolation that had been made before me, the whole scene vanished. In the room of the frightful spectres, there now entered a second dance of apparitions, very agreeably matched together, and made up of very amiable phantoms. The first pair was Liberty with Monarchy at her right hand; the second was Moderation, leading in Religion; and the third a person whom I had never seen,* with the Genius of Great Britain. At the first entrance the lady revived, the bags swelled to their former bulk, the pile of faggots and heaps of paper changed into pyramids of guineas: and for my own part I was so transported with joy, that I awaked, though I must confess I fain would have fallen asleep again to have closed my vision, if I could have done it.
No. 4.] Monday, March 5, 1710-11.
—Egregii mortalem altique silentif
One of uncommon silence and reserve.
AN author, when he first appears in the world, is very apt to believe it has nothing to think of but his performances. With a good share of this vanity in my heart, I made it my business these three days to listen after my own fame; and as I have sometimes met with circumstances which did not displease me, I have been encountered by others, which gave me much mortification. It is incredible to think how empty. I have in this time observed some part of the species to be, what mere blanks they are when they first come abroad in the morning, how utterly they are at a stand, until they are set a-going by some paragraph in a newspaper.
Such persons are very acceptable to a young author, for they desire no more in any thing but to be new, to be agreeable. If I found consolation among such, I was as much disquieted by the incapacity of others. These are mortals who have a certain curiosity without power of reflection, and perused my papers like spectators rather than readers. But there is so little pleasure in inquiries that so nearly concern ourselves, (it being the worst way
* The Elector of Hanover, afterwards George I.
in the world to fame, to be too anxious about it) that upon the whole I resolved for the future to go on in my ordinary way; and without too much fear or hope about the
business of reputation, to be very careful of
the design of my actions, but very negligent of the consequences of them. It is an endless and frivolous pursuit to act by any other rule, than the care of satisfying our own minds in what we do. One would think a silent man, who concerned himself with no one breathing, should be very little liable to misrepresentations; and yet I remember I was once taken up for a jesuit, for no other reason but my profound taciturnity. It is from this misfortune, that to be out of harm’s way, I have ever since ffected crowds. He who comes into assemblies only to gratify his curiosity, and ot to make a figure, enjoys the pleasures f retirement in a more exquisite degree, han he possibly could in his closet; the over, the ambitious, and the miser, are followed thither by a worse crowd than any they can withdraw from. To be exempt from the passions with which others are tormented, is the only pleasing solitude. I an very justly say with the ancient sage, I am never less alone than when alone. # As I am insignificant to the company in ublic places, and as it is visible I do not come thither as most do, to show myself, I gratify the vanity of all who pretend to make an appearance, and have often as kind, looks from well-dressed gentlemen and ladies, as a poet would bestow upon one of his audience. There are so many gratifications attend this public sort of obiscurity, that some little distastes I. daily preceive have lost their anguish; and I did the other day, without the least displeaSure, overhear one say of me; “that strange fellow!’ and another answer, “I have known the fellow’s face these twelve years, and so must you; but I believe you are the first ever asked who he was.” There are, I ust confess, many to whom my person is as well known as that of their nearest relaions, who give themselves no farther troule about calling me by my name or quality, ut, speak of me very currently by the apellation of Mr. What-d’y l-him. To make up for these trivial disadvan
tages, I have the highest satisfaction of .
beholding all nature with an unprejudiced eye; and having nothing to do with men's passions or interests, I can, with the greater sagacity, consider their talents, manners, fai ings, and merits. It is remarkable, that those who want any one sense, possess the others with greater force and vivacity. Thus my want of, or rather resignation of speech, gives me all the advantages of a dumb man. I have, methinks, a more than ordi enetration in seeing; and flatter myself that I have looked into the highest and lowest of mankind, and made shrewd guesses,
without being admitted to their conversa
tion, at the inmost thoughts and reflections of all whom I behold. It is from hence that good or ill fortune has no manner of force towards affecting my judgment, I see men flourishing in courts and languishing in jails, without being prejudiced, from their circumstances, to their favour or disadvantage; but from their inward manner of bearing their condition, often pity the prosperous, and admire the unhappy. Those who converse with the dumb, know from the turn of their eyes, and the changes of their countenance, their sentiments of the objects before them. I have indulged my silence to such an extravagance, that the few who are intimate with me, answer my smiles with concurrent sentences, and argue to the very point I shaked my head at, without my speaking. Will Honeycomb was very entertaining the other night at a play, to a gentleman who sat on his right hand, while I was at his left. The tleman believed Will was talking to self, when upon my looking with great approbation at a young thing in a box before us, he said, “I am quite of another opinion. She has, I will allow, a very pleasing aspect, but, methinks that simplicity in her countenance is rather childish than innocent.” When I observed her a second time, he said, ‘I grant her dress is very becoming, but perhaps the merit of that choice is owing to her mother; for though,” continued he, “I allow a beauty to be as much commended for the elegance of her dress, as a wit for that of his language; yet if she has stolen the colour of her ribands from another, or had advice about her trimmings, I shall not allow her the praise of dress, any more than I would call a plagiary an author.” When I threw my eye towards the next woman to her, ill spoke what I looked, according to his romantic imagination, in the following manner: “Behold, you who dare, that charming virgin; behold the beauty of her person chastised by the innocence of her thoughts. Chastity, good-nature, and affability, are the graces that play in her countenance; she knows she is handsome, but she knows she is good. Conscious beauty adorned with conscious virtue! What a spirit is there in those eyes! What a bloom in that person! How is the whole woman expre in her appearance! Her air has the beauty of motion, and her look the force of language.” It was prudence to turn away my eyes from this object, and therefore I turned them to the thoughtless creatures who make up the lump of that sex, and move a knowing eye no more than the portraiture of insignificant people by ordinary painters, which are but pictures of pictures. us the working of my own mind is the general entertainment of my life; I never enter into the commerce of discourse with any but my particular friends, and not in o even with them. Such a habit has
E. raised in me uncommon reflections; but this effect I cannot communicate but by my writings. As my pleasures are almost wholly confined to those of the sight, I take it for a peculiar *P. that I have always had an easy and familiar admittance to the fair sex. If I never praised or flattered, I never belied or contradicted them. As these compose half the world, and are, by the just complacence and gallantry of our nation, the more powerful part of our people, I shall dedicate a considerable share of these my speculations to their service, and shall lead the young through all the becoming duties of virgi– nity, marriage, and widowhood. When it is a woman’s day, in my works, I shall endeavour at a style and air suitable to their understanding. When I say this, I must be understood to mean, that I shall not lower, but exalt the subjects I treat upon. Discourse for their entertainment is not to be debased but refined. A man may appear learned without talking sentences, as in his ordinary gesture he discovers he can dance, though he does not cut capers. In a word, I shall take it for the greatest glory of my work, if among reasonable women this paper may furnish tea-table talk. In Crder to it, I shall treat on matters which relate to females, as they are concerned to approach or fly from the other sex, or as they are tied to them by blood, interest or affection. Upon this occasion I think it is but reasonable to declare, that whatever skill I may have in speculation, I shall never betray what the cycs of lovers say to each other in my presence. At the same time I shall not think myself obliged, by this promise, to conceal any false protestaticns which I cbserve made § glances in public assemblies; but endeavour to make both sexes appear in their conduct what they are in their hearts. By this means, love, during the time of my speculations, shall be carried on with the same sincerity as any other affair of less consideration. As this is the atest concern, men shall be from henceforth liable to the greatest reroach for misbehaviour in it. Falsehood in love shall hereafter bear a blacker aspect than infidelity in friendship, or villan in business. For this great and good end, all breaches against that noble passion, the cement of society, shall be severely examined. But this, and other matters loosely hinted at now, and in my former papers, shall have their proper place in my following discourses. The present writing is only to admonish the world, that they shall not find me an idle but a busy Spectator. R.
No. 5.] Tuesday, March 6, 1710-11.
Spectatum admissi risum teneatis? Hor. Mrs Poet. ver, 5. Admitted to the sight, would you not laugh? AN opera may be allowed to be extravagantly lavish in its decorations, as its only
design is to gratify the senses, and keep up an indolent attention in the audience. Common sense, however, requires, that there should be nothing in the scenes and machines, which may appear childish and absurd. . How would the wits of King Charles's time have laughed to have seen Nicolini exposed to a tempest in robes of ermine, and sailing in an open boat upon a sea of pasteboard? What a field of raillery would they have been let into, had they been entertained with painted drans spitting wildfire, enchanted chariots rawn by Flanders’ mares, and real cascades in artificial landscapes? A little skill in criticism would inform us, that shadows and realities ought not to be mixed together in the same piece; and that the scenes which are designed as the representations of nature, should be filled with resemblances, and not with the things themselves. If one would represent a wide champaign country filled with herds and flocks, it would be ridiculous to draw the country only upon the scenes, and to crowd seve +. of the stage with sheep and oxen. his is joining together inconsistencies, and making the decoration partly real, and partly imaginary. I would recommend what I have said here to the directors, as well as to the admirers of ou modern opera. As I was walking in the streets about a fortnight ago, I saw an ordinary fellow carrying a cage full of little birds upon his shoulder; and as I was wondering with myself what use he would put them to, he was met very luckily by an acquaintance who had the same curiosity. ū. his asking what he had upon his shoulder, he told him that he had been buying sparrows for the opera. “Sparrows for the opera,’ says his friend, licking his lips, ‘what, are they to be roasted 2’ ‘No, no,” says the other, “they are to enter towards the end of the first act, and to fly about the stage.” This strange dialogue awakened my curiosity so far, that I immediately bought the opera, by which means I perceived that the sparrows were to act the part of singing birds in a delightful grove; though upon a nearer ..". I found the sparrows t the same trick upon the audience, that Sir Martin Mar-all" practised upon his mistress: for though they flew in sight, the music proceeded from a concert of flaÉ. and bird-calls, which were planted ehind the scenes. At the same time I made this discovery, I found by the discourse of the actors, that there were great designs on foot for the improvement of the opera; that it had been proposed to break down a part of the wall, and to surprise the audience with a party of an hundred o
• ‘Sir Martin Mar-all, or The Feigned Innocence; a
comedy, by Dryden, made up of pieces borrowed from
horse, and that there was actually a pro-
t At the time this paper was written, it could have been little expected that what is here so happily ridiculed, would ever really take place; but, in our enlightened days, we have seen the Noir-rirrr acting as no inconsiderable auxiliary, not only in a suburban theatre, but in Covent-garden itself: and if the managers of our classical theatres have not been able to bring an hundred horses on the stage, it certainly was not from a want of inclination, but because the stage would not hold them.
f Rinaldo, an opera, 1711. The plan was laid by Aaron Hill, his outline filled up with Italian words by Sig. G. Rossi, and the music composed by Handel.
Quinault's Amant Indiscret," the Etourdi of Mo. The story is taken from Tusso, and the scene laid in and
liere, and M. du Patc's "Francion."
dern Italians express themselves in such a florid form of words, and such tedious circumlocutions, as are used by none but pedants in our own country; and at the same time fill their writings with such poor imaginations and conceits, as our youths are ashamed of before they have been two years at the university. ... Some may be apt to think that it is the difference of genius which produces the difference in the works of the two nations; but to show that there is nothing in this, if we look into the writings of the old Italians, such as Cicero and Virgil, we shall find that the English writers, in their way of thinking and expressing themselves, resemble those authors much more than the modern Italians pretend to do. And as for the poet him self, from whom the dreams of this ope are taken, I must entirely agree with Mon sieur Boileau, that one verse in Virgil i worth all the clinquant or tinsel of Tasso. But to return to the sparrows: there have been so many flights of them let loose in this opera, that it is feared the house will never get rid of them; and that in other plays they may make their entrance in very wrong and improper scenes, so as to be seen flying in a lady’s bed-chamber, or perching upon a king's throne; besides the inconveniences which the heads of the audience may sometimes suffer from them. I am credibly informed, that there was once a design of casting into an opera the story of Whittington and his cat, and that in order to it, there had been together a great quantity of mice; but Mr. Rich, the §. of the F. very pruently considered that it would be impossible for the cat to kill them all, and that consequently the princes of the stage might be as much infested with mice, as the prince of the island was before the cat’s arrival u it; for which reason he would not permit it to be acted in his house. And indeed I cannot blame him; for, as he said very well upon that occasion, I do not hear that any of the performers in our opera pretend to equal the famous pied piper,” who made all the mice of a great town in Germany follow his music, and by that means cleared the place of those little noxious animals. Before I dismiss this paper, I must inform my reader, that I hear there is a treaty on foot between London and Wisef (who will be appointed gardeners of the ro. to furnish the opera of Rinaldo Armida with an ...”. and that the next time it is acted, the singingbirds will be ated by tom-tits, the undertakers o; resolved to spare neither pains nor money for the gratification of the audience. C.
* June 26, 1284, the rats and mice by which Hamelen was infested, were allured, it is said, by a piper, to a contiguous river in which they were all drowned.
t London and Wise were the Queen's gardeners at this time.
No. 6..] Wednesday, March 7, 1710-11.
Credebant hoc grande nefas, et morte piandum,
"Twas impious then (so much was age rever'd)
I know no evil under the sun so great as the abuse of the understanding, and yet there is no one vice more common. It has diffused itself o both sexes, and all
ualities of mankind; and there is hardly that person to be found, who is not more concerned for the reputation of wit and sense, than of honesty and virtue. But this . affectation of being wise rather than honest, witty than good-natured, is the source of most of the ill habits of life. Such false impressions are owing to the abandoned writings of men of wit, and the awkward imitation of the rest of mankind.
For this reason Sir Roger was saying last night, that he was of opinion none but men of fine parts deserve to be hanged. The reflections of such men are so delicate upon all occurrences which they are concerned in, that they should be exposed to more than ordinary infamy and punishment, for offending against such quick admonitions as their own souls give them, and blunting the fine edge of their minds in such a manner, that they are no more shocked at vice and folly than men of slower capacities. There is no greater monster in being, than a very ill man of great parts. He lives like a man in a palsy, with one side of him dead. While perhaps he enjoys the satisfaction of luxury, of wealth, of ambition, he has lost the taste of good-will, of friendship, of innocence. Scarecrow, the beggar, in Lincoln’s-innfields, who disabled himself in his right leg, and asks alms all day to get himself a warm supper and a trull at night, is not half so despicable a wretch, as such a man of sense. The beggar has no relish above sensations; he #. rest more agreeable than motion; and while he has a warm fire and his doxy, never reflects that he deserves to be whipped. Every man who terminates his satisfactions and enjoyments within the supply of his own necessities and passions, is, says Sir Roger, in my eye, as poor a rogue as Scarecrow. . . But,” continued he, “for the loss of public and private virtue, we are beholden to your men of fine parts forsooth; it is with them no matter what is done, so it be done with an air. But to me, who am so whimsical in a corrupt age as to act according to nature and reason, a selfish man, in the most shining circumstance and equipage, appears in the same condition with the fellow above mentioned, but more contemptible in proportion to what more he robs the public of, and enjoys above him... I lay it down therefore for a rule, that the whole man is to move together; that every action of any importance, is to have a prospect of public good: and that the general tendency of our indifferent actions ought to be agreeable to the dictates of reason, of religion, of good-breeding; without this, a man as I have before hinted, is hopping instead of walking, he is not in his entire and proper motion. While the honest knight was thus bewildering himself in good starts, I looked attentively upon him, which made him, I thought, collect his mind a little. “What I aim at,’ says he, “is to represent that I am of opinion, to polish our understandings, and neglect our manners, is of all things the most inexcusable. Reason should govern passion, but instead of that, you see, it is often subservient to it; and, as unaccountable as one would think it, a wise man is not always a good man.” This degeneracy is not only the guilt of particular persons, but also, at some times, of a whole people: and perhaps it may appear upon examination, that the most polite ages are the least virtuous. This may be attributed to the folly of admitting wit and learning as merit in themselves, without considering the application of them. By this means it becomes a rule, not so much to regard what we do, as how we do it. But this false beauty will not pass upon men of honest minds and true taste. Sir Richard Blackmore says, with as much good sense as virtue, “It is a mighty shame and dishonour to employ excellent faculties and abundance of wit, to humour and please men in their vices and follies. The great enemy of mankind, notwithstanding his wit and angelic faculties, is the most odious being in the whole creation.” He goes on soon after to say, very generously, that he undertook the writing of his poem “to rescue the Muses out of the hands of ravishers, to restore them to their sweet and chaste mansions, and to engage them in an employment suitable to their dignity.’ This certainly ought to be the purpose of every man who appears in public, and whoever does not proceed upon that foundation, injures his country as fast as he succeeds in his studies. When modesty ceases to be the chief ornament of one sex; and integrity of the other, society is upon a wrong basis, and we shall be ever after without rules to guide our judgment in what is really becoming and ornamental. Nature and reason direct one thing, passion and humour another. To follow the dictates of these two latter, is ing into a road that is both endless and intricate; when we pursue the other, our passage is delightful, and what we aim at “o it. I do not doubt but England is at present as polite a nation as any in the world; but any man who thinks, can easily see, that the affectation of being gay and in fashion, has very near eaten up our good sense and our religion. Is there anything so just as that mode and gallantry should be built upon exerting ourselves in what is proper and agreeable to the institutions of justice and piety among us? And yet is there
26 THE SPECTATOR.
any thing more common, than that we run in perfect contradiction to them? All which is supported by no other pretension, than that it is done with what we call a good grace. Nothing ought to be held laudable or becoming, but what nature itself should prompt us to think so. Respect to all kinds of superiors is founded, I think, upon instinct; and yet what is so ridiculous as age? I make this abrupt transition to the mention of this vice, more than any other, in order to introduce a little story, which I think a pretty instance that the most polite age is in danger of being the most vicious. “It happened at Athens, during a public representation of some play exhibited in honour of the commonwealth, that an old gentleman came too late for a place suitable to his age and quality. Many of the young gentlemen, who observed the difficulty and confusion he was in, made signs to him that they would accommodate him if he came where they sat. The good man bustled through the crowd accordingly; but when he came to the seats to which he was invited, the jest was to sit close and expose him, as he stood, out of countenance, to the whole audience. The frolic went round the Athenian benches. But on those occasions there were also particular places assigned for foreigners. When the good man skulked towards the boxes appointed for the Lacedæmonians, that honest people, more virtuous than polite, rose up all to a man, and with the greatest respect received him among them. The Athenians being suddenly touched with a sense of the Spartan virtue and their own degeneracy, gave a thunder of applause; and the old man cried out, “The Athenians understand what is good, but the Lacedæmonians practise it.”” R.
No. 7..] Thursday, March 8, 1710-11.
Somnia, terrores magicos, miracula, sagas, Nocturnos lemures, portentaque Thessala rides? Hor. Lib. 2. Ep. ii. 208. Visions, and magic spells, can you despise, And laugh at witches, ghosts, and prodigies? GoING yesterday to dine with an old acquaintance, I had the misfortune to find the whole family very much dejected. Upon asking him the occasion of it, he told me that his wife had dreamt a strange dream the night before, which they were afraid portended some misfortune to themselves or to their children. At her coming into the room, I observed a settled melancholy in her countenance, which I should have been troubled for, had I not heard from whence it proceeded. We were no sooner sat down, but after having looked upon me a little while, ‘My dear,’ says she, turning to her husband, “you may now see the stranger that was in the candle last night.” Soon after this, as they began to of