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WHEN the wife of Hector, in Homer's Iliad, dis reat courses with her husband about the battle in which tood he was going to engage, the hero, desiring her to an leave the matter to his care, bids her go to her s of maids, and mind her spinning: by which the poet intimates, that men and women ought to busy themdian selves in their proper spheres, and on such matters atest only as are suitable to their respective sex.
I am at this time acquainted with a young gentleman, who has passed a great part of his life in the ians nursery, and upon occasion can make a caudle or a y of sack posset better than any man in England. He aton is likewise a wonderful critic in cambrics and musby lins, and he will talk an hour together upon a sweets be- meat. He entertains his mother every night with 1 her observations that he makes both in town and arms court as what lady shows the nicest fancy in her S ran dress; what man of quality wears the fairest wig; woice who has the finest linen, who the prettiest snufftime box, with many other the like curious remarks, that able. may be made in good company.
the world grow pale, and tremble with party rage. | figure of the doctor, who was placed with gr Camilla is one of the greatest beauties in the British gravity among the sticks of it. In a word, I fou nation, and yet values herself more upon being that the doctor had taken possession of her thoug the virago of one party, than upon being the toast her discourse, and most of her furniture; but fi of both. The dear creature, about a week ago, ing myself pressed too close by her question encountered the fierce and beautiful Penthesilea, winked upon my friend to take his leave, wh across a tea-table; but, in the height of her anger, he did accordingly. as her hand chanced to shake with the earnestness of the dispute, she scalded her fingers, and spilt a dish of tea upon her petticoat. Had not this accident broke off the debate, no body knows where it would have ended.
There is one consideration which I would earnestly recommend to all my female readers, and which I hope will have some weight with them. In short, it is this, that there is nothing so bad for the face as party zeal. It gives an ill-natured cast to the eye, and a disagreeable sourness to the look; besides that it makes the lines too strong, and flushes them worse than brandy. I have seen a woman's face break out in heats, as she has been talking against a great lord, whom she had never | seen in her life; and indeed I never knew a partywoman that kept her beauty for a twelvemonth, I would therefore advise all my female readers, as they value their complexions, to let alone all disputes of this nature; though, at the same time, I ¦ would give free liberty to all superannuated motherly partizans to be as violent as they please, since there will be no danger either of their spoiling their faces, or of their gaining converts.
For my own part, I think a man makes an odious and despicable figure, that is violent in a party ;| but a woman is too sincere to mitigate the fury of her principles with temper and discretion, and to act with that temper and reservedness which are requisite in our sex. When this unnatural zeal gets into them, it throws them into ten thousand heats and extravagancies; their generous souls set no bounds to their love, or to their hatred, and whether a whig or tory, a lap-dog or a gallant, an opera or a puppet-show, be the object of it, the passion, while it reigns, engrosses the whole woman. I remember when Dr. Titus Oates* was in all his glory, I accompanied my friend Will Honeycomb in a visit to a lady of his acquaintance. We were no sooner sat down, but upon casting my eyes about the room, I found in almost every corner of it a print that represented the doctor in all magnitudes and dimensions. A little after, as the lady was discoursing my friend, and held her snuff-box in her hand, who should I see in the lid of it but the doctor. It was not long after this when she had occasion for her handkerchief, which, upon first opening, discovered among the plaits of it the figure of the doctor. Upon this my friend Will, who loves raillery, told her, that if he was in Mr. Truelove's place (for that was the name of her husband) he should be made as uneasy by a handkerchief as ever Othello was, 'I am afraid,' said she, Mr. Honeycomb, you are a tory; tell me truly, are you a friend to the doctor or not? Will, instead of making her a reply, smiled in her face (for indeed she was very pretty), and told her that one of her patches was dropping off. She immediately adjusted it, and looking a little seriously, "Well,' says she, 'I will be hanged if you and your silent friend are not against the doctor in your hearts: I suspected as much by his saying nothing.' Upon this she took her fan into her hand, and, upon the opening of it, again displayed to us the
Dr. Sacheverell is understood to be the person really alluded to
N° 58. MONDAY, MAY 7, 1711.
Ut pictura, poesis erit
HOR. Ars Poet. ver. 361
Poems like pictures are.
NOTHING is so much admired, and so little und stood, as wit. No author that I know of has wi ten professedly upon it; and as for those who ma any mention of it, they only treat on the subject it has accidentally fallen in their way, and that t in little short reflections, or in general exclamato flourishes, without entering into the bottom of t matter. I hope therefore I shall perform an a ceptable work to my countrymen, if I treat at lar upon this subject; which I shall endeavour to in a manner suitable to it, that I may not incur censure which a famous critic bestows upon of who had written a treatise on the sublime,' in low grovelling style. I intend to lay aside a who week for this undertaking, that the scheme of m thoughts may not be broken and interrupted; ar I dare promise myself, if my readers will give m a week's attention, that this great city will be ver much changed for the better by next Saturday nigh I shall endeavour to make what I say intelligib to ordinary capacities; but if my readers me with any paper that in some parts of it may be little out of their reach, I would not have them di couraged, for they may assure themselves the nex shall be much clearer.
As the great and only end of these my specula tions is to banish vice and ignorance out of the ter ritories of Great Britain, I shall endeavour as muc as possible to establish among us a taste of polit writing. It is with this view that I have endea youred to set my readers right in several points re lating to operas and tragedies; and shall from tim to time impart my notions of comedy, as I thin they may tend to its refinement and perfection. find by my bookseller, that these papers of criti cism, with that upon humour, have met with a more kind reception than indeed I could have hoped for from such subjects; for this reason I shal enter upon my present undertaking with greater cheerfulness.
In this, and one or two following papers, I shall trace out the history of false wit, and distinguish the several kinds of it as they have prevailed in different ages of the world. This I think the more necessary at present, because I observed there were attempts on foot last winter to revive some of those antiquated modes of wit, that have been long exploded out of the commonwealth of letters. There were several satires and panegyrics handed about in acrostic, by which means some of the most arrant undisputed blockheads about the town began to entertain ambitious thoughts, and to set up for polite authors. I shall therefore describe at length those many arts of false wit, in which a writer does not show himself a man of a beautiful genius, but of great industry.
The first species of false wit which I have met with is very venerable for its antiquity, and has
d may' would le lanI find For the
very mistaken, in the translation of Du Bartas. I do e short not remember any other kind of work among the which moderns which more resembles the performances I have mentioned, than that famous picture of King Charles the First, which has the whole book of psalms written in the lines of the face, and the hair of the head. When I was last at Oxford I perused one of the whiskers, and was reading the other, but could not go so far in it as I would have done, by reason of the impatience of my friends and on the fellow-travellers, who all of them pressed to see such a piece of curiosity. I have since heard, that ses, or there is now an eminent writing-master in town, adually who has transcribed all the Old Testament in a in the full-bottomed periwig; and if the fashion should of the introduce the thick kind of wigs, which were in affinity vogue some few years ago, he promises to add two e, who or three supernumerary locks that should contain all the Apocrypha. He designed this wig originally for King William, having disposed of the two books of Kings in the two forks of the foretop; but that glorious monarch dying before the wig was finished, there is a space left in it for the face of any one that has a mind to purchase it.
But to return to our ancient poems in picture. I would humbly propose, for the benefit of our modern smatterers in poetry, that they would imitate their brethren among the ancients in those ingenious devices. I have communicated this thought to a young poetical lover of my acquaintance, who intends to present his mistress with a copy of verses made in the shape of her fan; and, if he tells me true, has already finished the three first sticks of e full of it. He has likewise promised me to get the meakinds of sure of his mistress's marriage-finger, with a design able the to make a posy in the fashion of a ring, which that is shall exactly fit it. It is so very easy to enlarge upon a good hint, that I do not question but my ingenious readers will apply what I have said to many other particulars: and that we shall see the town filled in a very little time with poetical tippets, handkerchiefs,, snuff-boxes, and the like female ornaments. I shall therefore conclude with a word of advice to those admirable English authors who call themselves Pindaric writers, that they would apply themselves to this kind of wit without loss of time, as being provided better than any other poets with verses of all sizes and dimensions.
figure I of the s in the else but to Mi
of the to the o think the ax, be upon still rex itself
Troilus akes me re much they are be perus could orks.
in these inter, or to draw ended to descrip
etry was ne mould
by several ay be met I am not
N° 59. TUESDAY, MAY 8, 1711.
ses were sions of sand to
Operose nihil agunt.
e tyrant ; if they ack; and
Busy about nothing.
of their THERE is nothing more certain than that every had pre- man would be a wit if he could; and notwithstanding pedants of a pretended depth and solidity ad of wit are apt to decry the writings of a polite author, = Flecno; as flash and froth, they all of them show, upon and, who occasion, that they would spare no pains to arrive tle poems at the character of those whom they seem to dend altars: spise. For this reason we often find them endeavouring at works of fancy, which cost them infinite pangs in the production. The truth of it is, a man had better be a galley-slave than a wit, were one to gain that title by those elaborate trifles which have been the inventions of such authors as were often masters of great learning, but no genius.
In my last paper I mentioned some of these false wits among the ancients, and in this shall give
of this nature, I shall produce the device of one Mr. Newberry, as I find it mentioned by our learned Camden in his Remains. Mr. Newberry, to represent his name by a picture, hung up at his door the sign of a yew-tree, that had several berries upon it, and in the midst of them a great golden N hung upon a bough of the tree, which by the help of a little false spelling made up the
the reader two or three other species of them,
It must have been very pleasant to have seen this poet avoiding the reprobate letter, as much as another would a false quantity, and making his escape from it through the several Greek dialects, when he was pressed with it in any particular syllable. For the most apt and elegant word in the whole language was rejected, like a diamond with a flaw in it, if it appeared blemished with a wrong letter. I shall only observe upon this head, that if the work I have here mentioned had been now extant, the Odyssey of Tryphiodorus, in all probability, would have been oftener quoted by our learned pedants, than the Odyssey of Homer. What a perpetual fund would it have been of obsolete words and phrases, unusual barbarisms and rusticities, absurd spellings, and complicated dialects? I make no question but it would have been looked upon as one of the most valuable treasuries of the Greek tongue.
I find likewise among the ancients that ingenious kind of conceit, which the moderns distinguish by the name of a rebus, that does not sink a letter, but a whole word, by substituting a picture in its place. When Cæsar was one of the masters of the Roman mint, he placed the figure of an elephant upon the reverse of the public money; the word Cæsar signifying an elephant in the Punic language. This was artificially contrived by Cæsar, because it was not lawful for a private man to stamp his own figure upon the coin of the commonwealth. Cicero, who was so called from the founder of his family, that was marked on the nose with a little wen like a vetch (which is cicer in Latin), instead of Marcus Tullius Cicero, ordered the words Marcus Tullius, with a figure of a vetch at the end of them, to be inscribed on a public monument. This was done probably to show that he was neither ashamed of his name or family, notwithstanding the envy of his competitors had often reproached him with both. In the same manner we read of a famous building that was inarked in several parts of it with the figures of a frog and a lizard; those words in Greek having been the names of the architects, who by the laws of their country were never permitted to inscribe their own names upon their works. For the same reason it is thought, that the forelock of the horse in the antique equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, represents at a distance the shape of an owl, to intimate the country of the statuary, who, in all probability, was an Athenian. This kind of wit was very much in vogue among our own countrymen about an age or two ago, who did not practise it for any oblique reason, as the ancients abovementioned, but purely for the sake of being witty. Among innumerable instances that may be given
I shall conclude this topic with a rebus, which has been lately hewn out in freestone, and erected over two of the portals of Blenheim House, being the figure of a monstrous lion tearing to pieces a little cock. For the better understanding of which device, I must acquaint my English reader, that a cock has the misfortune to be called in Latin by the same word that signifies a Frenchman, as a lion is the emblem of the English nation. Such a device in so noble a pile of building, looks like a pun in an heroic poem; and I am very sorry the truly ingenious architect would suffer the statuary to blemish his excellent plan with so poor a conceit. But I hope what I have said will gain quarter for the cock, and deliver him out of the lion's paw.
I find likewise in ancient times the conceit of making an echo talk sensibly, and give rational answers. If this could be excusable in any writer, it would be in Ovid, where he introduces the echo as a nymph, before she was worn away into nothing but a voice. The learned Erasmus, though a man of wit and genius, has composed a dialogue upon this silly kind of device, and made use of an echo who seems to have been a very extraordinary linguist, for she answers the person she talks with in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, according as she found the syllables which she was to repeat in any of those learned languages. Hudibras, in ridicule of this false kind of wit, has described Bruin bewailing the loss of his bear to a solitary echo, who is of great use to the poet in several distiches, as she does not only repeat after him, but helps out his verse, and furnishes him with rhymes:
He rag'd, and kept as heavy a coil as
I thought th' hadst scorn'd to budge a step
Then what has quail'd thy stubborn heart?
Nor did I ever winch or grudge it,
For thy dear sake. (Quoth she) Mum budget.
senses, which indeed had been very much impaired by that continual application he had given to his anagram.
The acrostic was probably invented about the same time with the anagram, though it is impossible to decide whether the inventor of the one or the other were the greater blockhead. The simple acrostic is nothing but the name or title of a person, or thing, made out of the initial letters of the several verses, and by that means written, after the manner of the Chinese, in a perpendicular line. But besides these there are compound acrostics, tle when the principal letters stand two or three deep. eir I have seen some of them where the verses have t is not only been edged by a name at each extrege- mity, but have had the same name running down like a seam through the middle of the poem.
There is another near relation of the anagrams ave and acrostics, which is commonly called a chronoby gram. This kind of wit appears very often on ho many modern medals, especially those of Germany, ted when they represent in the inscription the year the in which they were coined. Thus we see on a ise medal of Gustavus Adolphus the following words, ary, CHRISTVS DUX ERGO TRIVMPHVS. If you take but the pains to pick the figures out of the several words, and range them in their proper order, you will find they amount to MDCXXVII, or 1627, the year in which the medal was stamped: for as tars some of the letters distinguish themselves from the rest, and overtop their fellows, they are to be coneral sidered in a double capacity, both as letters and as figures. Your laborious German wits will turn over a whole dictionary for one of these ingenious devices. A man would think they were searching ore after an apt classical term, but instead of that they hed are looking out a word that has an L, an M, or a sto D in it. When therefore we meet with any of ms, these inscriptions, we are not so much to look in one them for the thought, as for the year of the Lord. The bouts-rimez were the favourites of the French nge nation for a whole age together, and that at a time who when it abounded in wit and learning. They were =of a list of words that rhyme to one another, drawn itty up by another hand, and given to a poet, who was his to make a poem to the rhymes in the same order his that they were placed upon the list: the more uncommon the rhymes were, the more extraordinary was the genius of the poet that could accommoork date his verses to them. I do not know any greater instance of the decay of wit and learning among the French (which generally follows the of declension of empire) than the endeavouring to that restore this foolish kind of wit. If the reader will the be at the trouble to see examples of it, let him they look into the new Mercure Gallant; where the tle author every month gives a list of rhymes to be ion, filled up by the ingenious, in order to be commuShe nicated to the public in the Mercure for the suc own ceeding month. That for the month of November over last, which now lies before me, is as follows: , by
One would be amazed to see so learned a man as tune, Menage talking seriously on this kind of trifle in st his the following passage: