Abbildungen der Seite

Indian journal, when we fancy the customs, dresses, and manners of other countries are ridiculous and extravagant, if they do not resemble those of our own. C.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

‘MR. SPECTAtoR,-My fortune, quality, and person, are such as render me as conspicuous as any young woman in town. It is in my power to enjoy it in all its vanities, but I have from a very careful education, contracted a great aversion to the forward air and fashion which is practised in all public places and assemblies. I attribute this very much to the style and manner of our plays. I was last night at the Funeral, * where a confident lover in the play speaking of his mistress, cries out—“Oh that Harriet! to fold these arms about the waist of that beauteous, struggling, and at last yielding fair!” Such an image as this ought by no means to be presented to a chaste and regular audience. I expect your opinion of this sentence, and recommend to your consideration, as a Spectator, the conduct of the stage at present with relation to chastity and modesty. I am, Sir, your constant reader and well-wisher.”

The complaint of this young lady is so just, that the offence is gross enough to have displeased ns who cannot pretend to that delicacy and modesty, of which she is mistress. But there is a great deal to be said in behalf of an author. If the audience would but consider the difficulty of keeping up a sprightly dialogue for five acts to

ther, they would allow a writer, when #. wants wit, and cannot please any otherwise, to help it out with a little smuttiness. I will answer for the poets, that no one ever writ bawdry, for any other reason but dearth of invention. When the author cannot strike out of himself any more of that which he has superior to those who make up the bulk of his audience, his natural recourse is to that which he has in common with them; and a description which gratifies a sensual appetite will please, when the author has nothing about him to delight a refined imagination. It is to such a poverty we must impute this and all other sentences in plays, which are of this kind, and which are commonly termed luscious expressions.

This expedient to supply the deficiencies of wit, has been used more or less by most of the authors who have succeeded on the stage; though I know but one who has professedly writ a play upon the basis of the

desire of multiplying our species, and that is the polite Sir George Etheridge; if I understand what the lady would be at, in the play called She would if She could. Other poets have here and there given an intimation that there is this design, under all the disguises and affectations which a lady may put on; but no author, except this, has made sure work of it, and put the imaginations of the audience upon this one purpose from the beginning to the end of the comedy. It has always fared accordingly; for whether it be that all who go to this piece would if they could, or that the innocents go to it, to guess only what she would if she could, the play has always been well received. It lifts a heavy empty sentence, when there is added to it a lascivious gesture of body; and when it is too low to be raised even by that, a flat meaning is enlivened by making it a double one. Writers who want genius, never fail of keeping this secret in reserve, to create a laugh or raise a clap. I, who know nothing of women but from seeing plays, can give great guesses at the whole structure of the fair sex, by being innocently placed in the pit, and insulted by the petticoats of their dancers; the advantages of whose pretty persons are a #. help to a dull play. When a poet ags in writing lusciously, a pretty girl can move lasciviously, and have the same good consequence for the author. Dull poets in this case use their audiences, as dull parasites do their patrons; when they cannot longer divert them with their wit or humour, they bait their ears with something which is agreeable to their temper, thoug below their understanding. Apicius cannot resist being pleased, if you give him an account of a delicious meal; or Clodius, if you describe a wanton beauty: though at the same time, if you do not awake those inclinations in them, no men are better judges of what is just and delicate in conversation. But as I have before observed, it is easier to talk to the man than to the man of sense. It is remarkable that the writers of least learning are best skilled in the luscious way. The poetesses of the age have done wonders in this kind; and we are obliged to the lady who writ Ibrahim, f for introducing a preparatory scene to the very action, when the emperor throws his handkerchief as a signal for his mistress to follow him into the most retired part of the seraglio. It must be confessed his Turkish majesty went off with a good air, but methought we made but a sad figure, who waited without. This ingenious gentlewoman, in this piece of bawdry, refined upon an author of the same sex,t who, in the Rover, makes a country 'squire strip to his Holland drawers. For Blunt is disappointed, and the emperor is understood to go on to the utmost. The pleasantry of stripping

* The Funeral, or Grief Alamode, a comedy by Sir Richard Steele.—Much to the honour of Sir Richard, he attended to the letter of his fair correspondent. and in a subsequent edition of his comedy, expunged all the obnoxious passages.

f Mrs. Mary Pix. : Mrs. Aphara Behn.

almost naked has been since practised (where indeed it should have been begun) very successfully at Bartholomew fair.” It is not to be here omitted, that in one of the above-mentioned female compositions, the Rover is very frequently sent on the same errand; as I take it, above once every act. This is not wholly unnatural; for, they say, the men authors draw themselves in their chief characters, and the women writers may be allowed the same liberty. Thus, as the male wit gives his hero a great fortune, the female gives her heroine a good gallant at the end of the play. But, indeed, there is hardly a play one can go to, but the hero or fine gentleman of it struts off upon the same account, and leaves us to consider what good office he has put us to, or to employ ourselves as we please. To be plain, a man who frequents plays would have a very respectful notion of himself, were he to recollect how often he has been used as a pimp to ravishing tyrants, or successful rakes. When the actors make their exit on this good occasion, the ladies are sure to have an examini. glance from the pit, to see how they relish what passes; and a few lewd fools are very ready to employ their talents upon the composure or freedom of their looks. Such incidents as these make some ladies wholly absent themselves from the playhouse; and others never miss the first day of a play, lest it should prove too luscious to admit their going with any countenance to it on the second. If men of wit, who think fit to write for the stage, instead of this pitiful way of giving delight, would turn their thoughts upon raising it from such good natural impulses as are in the audience, but are choaked up by vice and luxury, they would not only ease, but befriend us at the same time. f a man had a mind to be new in his way of writing, might not he who is represented as a fine gentleman, though he betrays the honour and bed of his neighbour and friend, and lies with half the women in the play, and is at last rewarded with her of the best character in it; I say, upon giving the comedy another cast, might not such a one divert the audience quite as well, if at the catastrophe he were found out for a traitor, and met with contempt accordingly? There is seldom a person devoted to above one darling vice at a time, so that there is room enough to catch at men's hearts to their good and o: if the poets will attempt it with the honesty which becomes their character. There is no man who loves his bottle or his mistress, in a manner so very abandoned, as not to be capable of relishing an agreeable character, that is in no way a slave to either of those pursuits. A man that is temperate, generous, valiant, chaste,

* The appearance of Lady Mary, a rope-dancer at Bartholomew fair, gave occasion to this proper animad. version.

faithful, and honest, may, at the same time, have wit, humour, mirth, good breeding, and gallantry. While he exerts these latter qualities, twenty occasions might be invented to show he is master of the other noble virtues. Such characters would smite and reprove the heart of a man of sense, when he is given up to his pleasures. He would see he has been mistaken all this while, and be convinced that a sound constitution and an innocent mind, are the true o: for becoming and enjoying life. All men of true taste would .." a man of wit, who should turn his ambition this way, a friend and benefactor to his country; but I am at a loss what name they would give him, who makes use of his capacity for contrary purposes. R.

No. 52.] Monday, Ahril 30, 1711.

Omnes ut tecum meritis pro talibus annos
Exigat, et pulchra faciat te prole parentern.
Pirg. JEn. i. 78.

To crown thy worth, she shall be ever thine,
And make thee father of a beauteous line.

AN ingenious correspondent, like a sprightly wife, will always have the last word. I did not think my last letter to the deformed fraternity would have occasioned any answer, especially since I had promised them so sudden a visit; but as they think they cannot show too great a veneration for my person, they have already sent me up an answer. As to the Fo of a marriage between myself and the matchless Hecatissa, I have but one objection to it; which is, that all the society will expect to be acquainted with her; and who can be sure of keeping a woman's heart long, where she may have so much choice? I am the more alarmed at this, because the lady seems particularly smitten with men of their make. I believe I shall set my heart upon her; and think never the worse of my mistress for an epigram a smart fellow writ, as he thought, against her; it does but the more recommend her to me. At the same time I cannot but discover that his malice is stolen from Martial: ‘Tacta places, audita places, si non videare, Tota places; neutro, si videare, places.” “Whilst in the dark on thy soft hand I hung, And heard the tempting Syren in thy tongue, What flames, what darts, what anguish, figural But when the candle enter'd, I was cur'd.” ‘Your letter to us we have received, as a signal mark of your favour and brotherly affection. We shall be heartily glad to see your short face in Oxford: and since the wisdom of our legislature has been immortalized in your speculations, and our personal deformities in some sort by you recorded to all posterity; we hold ourselves in gratitude bound to receive, with the highest respect, all such persons as for their extraordinary merit you shall think fit, from time to time, to recommend unto the board. As

for the Pictish damsel, we have an easy chair prepared at the upper end of the table; which we doubt not but she will grace with a very hideous aspect, and nuch better become the seat in the native and unaffected uncomeliness of her person, than with all the superficial airs of the pencil, which (as you have very ingeniously observed) vanish with a breath, and the most innocent adorer may deface the shrine with a salutation, and in the literal sense of our poets, snatch and imprint his balmy kisses, and devour her melting lips. In short, the only faces of the Pictish kind that will endure the weather, must be of Dr. Carbuncle’s die; though his, in truth, has cost him a world the painting; but then he boasts with Zeuxes, in aetermitatem flingo; and oft jocosely tells the fair ones, would they acquire colours that would stand kissing, they must no longer paint, but drink for a complexion: a maxim that in this our age has been pursued with no ill success; and has been as admirable in its effects, as the famous cosmetic mentioned in the Postman, and invented by the renowned British Hippocrates of the pestle and mortar; making the party, after a due course, rosy, hale, and airy; and the best and most approved receipt now extant, for the fever of the spirits. But to return to our female candidate, who, I understand is returned to herself, and will no longer hang out false colours; as she is the § of her sex that has done us so great an honour, she will certainly in a very short time, both in prose and verse, be a lady of the most celebrated deformity now living, and meet with many admirers here as frightful as herself. But being a long-headed gentlewoman, I am apt to imagine she has some further design than you have yet penetrated; and perhaps has more mind to the Spectator than any of his fraternity, as the person of all the world she could like for a paramour. And if so, really I cannot but applaud her choice, and should be glad, if it might lie in my power, to effect an amicable accommodation betwixt two faces of such different extremes, as the only possible expedient to mend the breed, and rectify the physiognomy of the family on both sides. And again, as she is a lady of a very fluent elocution, you need not fear that your first child will be born dumb, which otherwise you might have reason to be apprehensive of. To be plain with you, I can see nothing shocking in it; for though she has not a face like a john-apple, yet as a late friend of mine, who at sixty-five ventured on a lass of fifteen, very frequently in the remaining five years of his life gave me to understand, that as old as he then seemed, when they were first married he and his spouse could make but fourscore; so, may madam Hecatissa very justly allege hereafter, that as long-visaged as she may then be thought, upon their wedding-day Mr. Spectator and she had but half an ell of

face betwixt them; and this my worthy predecessor, Mr. Sergeant Chin, always maintained to be no more than the true oval proportion, between man and wife. But as this may be a new thing to you, who have hitherto had no expectations from women, I shall allow you what time you think fit to consider on it; not without some hope of seeing at last your thoughts heresubjoined to mine, and which is an honour much desired by, sir, your assured friend, and most humble servant, • HUGH GOBLIN, Praeses.”

The following letter has not much in it, but as it is written in my own praise, I cannot from my heart suppress it.

‘SIR,-You proposed in your Spectator of last Tuesday, Mr. Hobbs’s hypothesis for solving that very odd phaenomenon of laughter. You have made the hypothesis valuable by espousing it yourself; for had it continued Mr. Hobbs’s, nobody would have minded it. Now here this perplexed case arises. A certain company laughed very heartily upon the reading of that very paper of yours; and the truth of it is, he must be a man of more than ordinary constancy that could stand out against so much comedy, and not do as we did. Now there are few men in the world so far lost to all good sense, as to look upon you to be a man in a state of folly “inferior to himself.”—Pray then how do you justify your hypothesis of laughter? “Your most humble, Q. R.” ‘Thursday, the 26th of the month of fools. ‘SIR,--In answer to your letter, I must desire you to recollect yourself; and you will find, that when you did me the honour to be so merry over my paper, you laughed at the idiot, the German courtier, the gaper, the merry-andrew, the haberdasher, the biter, the butt, and not at “Your humble oë

[ocr errors]

No. 53.] Tuesday, May 1, 1711.

Aliquando bonus dormitat Homerus, Hor. Ars Poet, ver, 359. Homer himself hath been observ'd to nod. - Roscommon.

My correspondents grow so numerous, that I cannot avoid frequently inserting their applications to me.

• MR. SPECTAton,--I am glad I can in form you, that your endeavours to adorn that sex, which is the fairest part of the visible creation, are well received, and like to prove not unsuccessful. The triumph of %. over her sister Laetitia has been the subject of conversation at several tea-tables where I have been present; and I have observed the fair circle not a little pleased to find you considering them as reasonable creatures, and endeavouring to banish that Mahometan custom, which had too much prevailed even in this island, of treating women as if they had no souls. I must do them the justice to say, that there seems to be nothing wanting to the finishing of these lovely pieces of human nature, besides the turning and applying their ambition properly, and the keeping them up to a sense of what is their true merit. Epictetus, that plain, honest philosopher, as little as he had of gallantry, appears to have understood them, as well as the polite St. Evrement, and has hit this point very luckily. “When young women,” says he, “arrive at a certain age, they hear themselves called Mistresses, and are made to believe that their only business is to please the men; they immediately begin j place all their hopes in the adorning of their persons; it is therefore,’ continues he, “worth the while to endeavour by all means to make them sensible

that the honour paid to them is only upon

account of their conducting themselves with virtue, modesty, and discretion.” ‘Now, to pursue the matter yet further, and to render your cares for the improvement of the fair ones more effectual, I would propose a new method, like those applications which are said to convey their virtue by sympathy; and that is, that in order to embellish the mistress, you should give a new education to the lover, and teach the men not to be any longer dazzled by false charms and unreal beauty. I cannot but think that if our sex knew always how to place their esteem justly, the other would not be so often wanting to themselves in deserving it. For as the being enamoured with a woman of sense and virtue is an improvement to a man's understanding and morals, and the passion is ennobled by the object which inspires it; so on the other side, the appearing amiable to a man of a wise and elegant mind, carries in itself no small degree of merit and accomplishment. I conclude, therefore, that one way to make the women yet more agreeable is, to make the men more virtuous. I am, sir, your most humble serWant, R. B.”

* April 26th.

“SIR,-Yours of Saturday fast I read, not without some resentment; but I will suppose, when you say you expect an inundation of ribands and brocades, and to see many new vanities which the women will fall into u a o: with France, that you int only the unthinking part of our sex; and what methods can reduce them to reason is hard to imagine.

“But, sir, there are others yet, that your instructions might be of great use to, who, after their best endeavours, are sometimes at a loss to acquit themselves to a censorious world. I am far from thinking you can altogether disapprove of conversation between ladies and gentlemen, regulated by

the rules of honcur and prudence; and have thought it an observation not ill-made, that where that was wholly denied, the women lost their wit, and the men their good manners. It is, sure, from those improper liberties you mentioned, that a sort of undistinguishing people shall banish from their drawing-rooms the best-bred men in the world, and condemn those that do not. Your stating this point might, I think, be of good use, as well as much oblige, sir, your admirer and most humble servant, ANNA BELLA.”

No answer to this, till Anna Bella sends a description of those she calls the bestbred men in the world.

“MR. SPECTAtoR,--I am a gentleman who for many years last past have been well known to be truly splenetic, and that my spleen arises from having contracted so great a delicacy, by reading the best authors, and keeping the most refined company, that I cannot bear the least impro§. of language, or rusticity of behaviour. | Now, sir, I have ever looked upon this as a wise distemper; but by late observations find, that every heavy wretch, who has nothing to say, excuses his dulness by complaining of the spleen. Nay, I saw the | other day, two fellows in a tavern kitchen set up for it, call for a pint and pipes, and only o guzzling liquor, to each other’s health, and by wafting smoke in each | other's face, pretend to throw cff the spleen. I appeal to you whether these dishonours are to be done to the distemper of the t and the polite. I beseech you, sir, to inform these fellows that they have not the spleen, because they cannot talk without the help of a glass at their mouths, or convey their meaning to each other without the interposition of clouds. If you will not do this with all lo. I assure you, for my part, I will wholly quit the disease, and for the future be merry with the vulgar. I am, sir, your humble servant.”

“SIR,-This is to let you understand that I am a reformed Starer, and conceived a detestation for that practice from what you have writ upon the subject. But as you have been very severe upon the behaviour of us men at divine service, I hope you will not be so apparently partial to the women. as to let them go wholly unobserved. If they do every thing that is possible to attract our eyes, are we more culpable than they, for looking at them? I happened last Sunday to be shut into a pew, which was full of young ladies in the bloom of youth and beauty. When the service began, I had not room to kneel at the confession, but as I stood kept my eyes from wandering as well as I was able, till one of the young ladies, who is a Peeper, resolved to ring down my looks and fix my devotion on herself. You are to know, sir, that a

Peeper works with her hands, eyes, and fan; one of which is continually in motion, while she thinks she is not actually the admiration of some ogler or starer in the congregation. As I stood utterly at a loss how to behave myself, surrounded as I was, this Peeper so placed herself as to be kneeling just before me. She displayed the most, beautiful bosom imaginable, which heaved and fell with some fervour, while a delicate well-shaped arm held a fan over her It was not in nature to command one's eyes from this object. I could not avoid taking notice also of her fan, which had on it various figures very improper to behold on that occasion. There lay in the body of the piece a Venus under a purple canopy furled with curious wreaths of dra§§ alf naked, attended with a train of upids, who were busy in fanning her as she slept. Behind her was drawn a satyr peeping over the silken fence, and threatening to break through it. I frequently offered to turn my sight another way, but was still detained by the fascination of the Peeper's eyes, who had long practised a skill in them, to recal the parting glances of her beholders...You see my complaint, and I hope you will take these mischievous people, the Peepers, into your consideration. I doubt not but you will think a Peeper as much more pernicious than a Starer, as an ambuscade is more to be feared than an open assault. I am, Sir, your most obedient servant.”

[blocks in formation]


“Though some may think we descend from our imperial dignity, in holding correspondence with a private literato; yet as we have great respect to all good intentions for our service, we do not esteem it beneath us to return you our royal thanks for what you have published in our behalf, while under confinement in the enchanted castle of the Savoy, and for your mention of a subsidy for a prince in misfortune. This your timely zeal has inclined the hearts of divers to be aiding unto us, if we could pro the means. We have taken their good-will into consideration, and have contrived a method which will be easy to those who shall give the aid, and not unacceptable to us who receive it. A concert of music shall be prepared at Haberdasher's-hall, for Wednesday the second of May, and we will honour the said entertainment with our own presence, where each erson shall be assessed but at two shilings and sixpence. What we expect from you is, that you publish these our royal intentions, with injunction that they be read at all tea-tables within the cities of London and Westminster; and so we bid you

heartily farewell.

“LATINUS, King of the Volscians.

“Given at our court in Vinegar-yard, lo the third from the earth, April.” 1711.

No. 54.] Wednesday, May 2, 1711.

Strenua nos exercet inertia. o Hor. Lib. 2. Ep. xi. 28. Laborious idleness our powers employs.

The following letter being the first that I have received from the learned university of Cambridge, I could not but do myself the honour of publishing it. It gives an account of a new sect of philosophers which has arose in that famous residence of learning; and is, perhaps, the only sect this age is likely to produce.

‘Cambridge, April 26.

“MR. SPECTAtoR,—Believing you to be an universal encourager of liberal arts and sciences, and glad of any information from the learned world, I thought an account of a sect of philosophers, . o among us, but not taken notice of as far as I can remember, by any writers, either ancient or modern, would not be unacceptable to ou. The philosophers of this sect are in the l age of our university called Loungers. I am of opinion, that, as in many other things, so likewise in this, the ancients have been defective; viz: in mentioning no philosophers of this sort. Some indeed will affirm that they are a kind of Peripatetics, because we see them continually walking about. But I would have these gentlemen consider, that though the ancient Peripatetics walked much, yet they wrote much also; witness, to the sorrow of this sect, Aristotle and others; whereas it is notorious that most of our professors never lay out a farthing either in pen, ink, or paper. Others are for deriving them from Diogenes, because several of the leading men of the sect have a i. deal of cynical humour in them, and delight much in sunshine. But then, again, Diogenes was content to have his constant habitation in a narrow tub, whilst our philosophers are so far from being of his opinion, that it is death to them to be confined within the limits of a good handsome convenient chamber but for half an hour. Others there are who from the clearness of their heads deduce the pedigree of loungers from that great man (I think it was either Plato or Socrates) who, after all his study and learning, professed, that all he then knew was, that he knew nothing. You easily see this is but a shallow argument, and may be soon confuted.

“I have with great F. and industry made my observation from time to time upon these sages; and having now all materials ready, am compiling a treatise, wherein I shall set forth the rise and progress of this famous sect, together with their maxims, austerities, manner of living, &c. Having prevailed with a friend who

« ZurückWeiter »