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when this great work was begun, which must have been many
hundred years ago, there was some religion among this people ; for they gave it the name of a temple, and have a tradition that it was designed for men to pay their devotions in. And indeed there are several rea. sons which make us think that the natives of this country had formerly among them some sort of worship; for they set apart every seventh day as sacred: but upon my going into one of these holy houses on that day, I. could not observe any circumstance of devotion in their behaviour :- there was indeed a man in black who was. mounted above the rest, and seemed to utter something with a great deal of vehemence'; but as for those under.. neath him, instead of paying their worship to the deity of the place, they were most of them bowing and coura: tesying to one another, and a considerable number of them fast asleep:
• The Queen of the country appointed two men tom attend us, that had enough of our language to make themselves understood in some few particulars. But we soon perceived these two were great enemies to one another, and did not always agree in the same story. We could make a shift to gather out of one of them, that this island was very much infested with a monstrous kind of animals, in the shape of men, called Whigs ; and he. often told us, that he hoped we should meet with none of them in our way; for that if we did, they would be: apt to knock us down for being kings.
• Our other interpreter used to talk very much of a kind of animal called a Tory, that was as great a monster as the Whig, and would treat us as ill for being for reigners. These two creatures, it seems, are born with a secret antipathy to one another, and engage when they meet as naturally as the elephant and the rhinoceros. But as we saw none of either of these species, we are apt: to think that our guides deceived us with misrepresenta tions and fictions, and amused us with an account of such monsters as are not really in their country. • These particulars we made a shift to pick out 'from:
2 the discourse of our interpreters ; which we put together as well as we could, being able to understand buti here and there a word of what they said, and afterwards
NO. 50. making up the meaning of it among ourselves. The men of the country are very cunning and ingenious in handicraft works ; but withal so very idle, that we of. ten saw young lusty raw.boned fellows carried up and down the streets in little covered rooms by a couple of porters, who are hired for that service. Their dress is likewise very harbarous, for they almost strangle themselves about the neck, and bind their bodies with many ligatures, that we are apt to think are the occasion of several distempers among them which our country is entirely free from. Instead of those beautiful feathers with which we adorn our heads, they often buy up a monstrous bush of hair, which covers their heads, and falls down in a large fleece below the middle of their backs ; with which they walk up
and down the streets, and are as proud of it as if it was of their own growth.
• We were invited to one of their public diversions, where we hoped to have seen the great men of their country running down a stag or pitching a bar, that we might have discovered who were the persons of the greatest abilities among them ; but instead of that, they
; conveyed us into a huge room lighted up with abundance of candles, where this lazy people sat still above three hours to see several feats of ingenuity performed by others, who it seems were paid for it.
As for the women of the country, not being able to talk with them, we could only make our remarks upon them at a distance. They let the hair of their heads grow to a great length; but as the men make a great show with heads of hair that are none of their own, the women, who they say have very fine heads of hair, tie it up in a knot, and cover it from being seen. The was men look like angels, and would be more beautiful than the sun, were it not for little black spots that are apt to break out in their faces, and sometimes rise in very odd figures. I have observed that these little blemishes wear off very soon ; but when they disappear in part of the face, they are very apt to break out in ana other, insomuch that I have seen a spot upon the forehead in the afternoon, which was upon the chin in the morning.'
The aushor then proceeds to shew the absurdity of
breeches and petticoats, with many other curious observations, which I shall reserve for another occasion. I cannot however conclude this paper without taking notice, that amidst these wild remarks there now and then appears something very reasonable. I cannot likewise forbear observing, that we are all guilty in some measure of the same narrow way of thinking, which we meet with in this abstract of the Indian journal; when we fancy the customs, dresses, and manners of other countries are ridiculous and extravagant, if they do not resemble those of
NO. 51.- SATURDAY, APRIL 28. 17111
Torquet ab obscenis jam nunc sermonibus aurem.
HOR. I. Ep. ii. 127. He from the taste obscure reclaims our youth, Pope.
INDECENCY PROCEEDS FROM DULNESS.
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
much to the style and manners 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 HARRIOT! 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,
The complaint of this youug lady is so just, that the offence is gross enough to have displeased persons 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 dif.. ficulty of keeping up a sprightly dialogue for five acts together, they would allow a writer, when he 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 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 othersentences in plays, which are of this kind, and which are commonly termed luscious expressions.
This expedient to supply the deficiences 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 ETHELRIDGE ; if I understand what the lady: would be at in the play called She would if she could. O. ther poets have, here and there, given an intimation thatthere 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 begin. ning 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, where there is added to it a lascivious gesture of body ; arid 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 taise 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 great help to a dull play. When a poet flags 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 long divert them with their wit or humour, they bait their ears with something which is agreeable to their temper, though below their understanding. Apicius cannot resist being pleased, if you give him an account of a delicious meal; or CLODIU-s, if you describe a wanton beauty: tho' 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*, for introducing a preparatory scene to the very action, when the Emperor throws his hankerchief 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 gentlewomant, in this piece of baw. dry, refineduponanauthor of the same sex, who, in the Raver,
makes a country-square strip to his olland awers. But Bluntis disappointed, and the Emperorisunderstood to goon to the utmost. The pleasantry of stripping almost naked has been since practised (where indeed it should have been begun) very successfully at Bartholomew-fair.
It is not here to be omitted, that in one of the abovementioned female compositions, the Rover is very frequently sent on the same errand.; as I take it, above once
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 good fortune, the
* Mrs MARY Pix.