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If we look forward to him for help, we shall never be in danger of falling down those precipices which our imagination is apt to create. Like those who walk upon a line, if we keep our eye fixed upon one point, we may step forward securely ; whereas an imprudent or cowardly glance on either side will infallibly destroy us.
No 616. FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 1714.
Qui bellus homo est, Cotta, pusillus bamo est.
MART. Epig. x. d.
A pretty fellow is but half a man.
Cicero hath observed, that a jest is never uttered with a better grace than when it is accompanied with a serious countenance. When a pleasant thought plays in the features before it discovers itself in words, it raises too great an expectation, and loses the advantage of giving surprise. Wit and humour are no less poorly recommended by a levity of phrase, and that kind of language which may be distinguished by the name of Cant. Ridicule is never more strong than when it is concealed in gravity. True humour lies in the thought, and arises from the representation of images in odd circumstances and uncommon lights. A pleasant thought strikes us by the force of its natural beauty; and the mirth of it is generally rather palled than heightened, by that ridiculous phraseology which is so much in fashion among the pretenders to humour and plea. santry. This tribe of men are like our mounte. banks; they make a man a wit by putting him in a fantastic habit.
Our little hurlesqne authors, who are the delight of ordinary readers, generally abound in these pert phrases, which have in them more vivacity than wit.
I lately saw an instance of this kind of writing, which gave me so lively an idea of it, that I could not forbear begging a copy of the letter from the gentleman who showed it to me. It is written by a country wit, upon the occasion of the rejoicings on the day of the king's coronation.
• Past two o'clock and a DEAR JACK,
frosty morning.' I have just left the right worshipful and his myrmidons about a sneaker of five gallons. The whole magistracy was pretty well disguised before I
gave them the slip. Our friend the alderman was half-seas over before the bonfire was out. We had with us the attorney, and two or three other bright fellows. The doctor plays least in sight.
"At nine o'clock in the evening we set fire to the whore of Babylon. The devil acted his part to a mi. racle. He has made his fortune by it. We equipped the young dog with a tester apiece. Honest old Brown of England was very drunk, and showed his loyalty to the tune of a hundred rockets. The mob drank the king's health, on their marrowbones, in mother Day's double. 'They whipped as half a dozen hogsheads. Poor Tom Tyler had like to have been demolished with the end of a skyrocket, that fell upon the bridge of his nose as he was drinking the king's health, and spoiled his tip. The-mob were very loyal till about midnight, when they grew a little mutinous for more liquor. They had like to
have dumfounded the justice; but his clerk came in to his assistance, and took them all down in black and white.
6 When I had been huzzaed out of my seven senses, I made a visit to the women, who were guzzling very comfortably. Mrs. Mayoress clipped the king's English. Clack was the word.
I forgot to tell thee that every one of the posse had his hat cocked with a distich; the senators sent us down a cargo of ribbon and metre for the occasion.
Sir Richard, to show his zeal for the protestant religion, is at the expense of a tar.barrel and a ball. I peeped into the knight's great hall, and saw a very pretty bevy of spinsters. My dear re. lict was amongst them, and ambled in a country dance as notably as the best of them.
May all his majesty's liege subjects love him as well as his good people of this his ancient borough! Adieu.'
N° 617. MONDAY, NOV. 8, 1714.
Torva Mimalloncis implêrunt cornua bombis,
PER. Sat. i. 99.
Their crooked horns the Mimallonian crew
Tuere are two extremities in the style of humour, one of which consists in the use of that little pert phraseology which I took uotice of in my last pa. per; the other in the affectation of strained and pompous expressions, fetched from the learned languages. The first savours too much of the town; the other of the college.
As nothing illustrates better than example, I shall here present my reader with a letter of pedan. tic humour, which was written by a young gentle. man of the university to his friend, on the same occasion, and from the same place, as the lively epistle published in my last Spectator :
6 DEAR CHUM*,
• It is now the third watch of the night, the greatest part of which I have spent round a capacious bowl of china, filled with the choicest products of both the Indies. I was placed at a quadrangular table, diametrically opposite to the mace, bearer. The visage of that venerable herald was, according to custom, most gloriously illuminated on this joyful occasion. The mayor and aldermen, those pillars of our constitution, began to totter; and if any one at the board could have so far articulated, as to have demanded intelligibly a reinforcement of liquor, the whole assembly had been by this time extended under the table.
* A cant word for a chamber-companion and bedkellow at
• The celebration of this night's solemnity was opened by the obstreperous joy of drummers, who, with their parchment thunder, gave a signal for the appearance of the mob under their several classes and denominations. They were quickly joined by the melodious clank of marrowbones and cleavers, while a chorus of bells filled up the concert. A pyramid of stack-faggots cheered the hearts of the pu. pulace with the promise of a blaze; the guns sooner uttered the prologue, but the heavens were brightened with artificial meteors and stars of our own making; and all the High-street lighted up from one end to another with a galaxy of candles. We col. lected a largess for the multitude, who tippled eleemosynary until they grew exceedingly vociferous. There was a pasteboard pontiff, with a little swarthy demon at his elbow, who, by his diabolical whispers and insinuations, tempted his holiness into the fire, and then left him to shift for himself. The mobile were very sarcastic with their clubs, and gave the old gentleman several thumps upon his triple head. piece*. Tom Tyler's phiz is something damaged by the fall of a rocket, which had almost spoiled the
• The pope's tiara, or triple mitre.