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and Romans, have endeavoured to supply its place with all the extravagancies of an irregular fancy. Mr DRYDEN makes a very handsome observation on OVID's writing a letter from DIDO to ENEAS, in the following words: "OVID (says he, speaking of VIRGIL's fiction of DIDO and NEAS) takes it up after him, even in the same age, and makes an ancient heroine of VIRGIL's new ereated DIDO; dictates a letter for her just before her death to the ungrateful fugitive; and, very unluckily for himself, is for measuring a sword with a man so much superior in force to him on the same subject. I think I may be judge of this, because I have translated both. The famous author of the Art of Love has no thing of his own; he borrows all from a greater master in his own profession, and, which is worse, improves nothing which he finds nature fails him, and being for ced to his old shift, he has recourse to witticism. This passes indeed with his soft admirers, and gives him the preference to VIRGIL in their esteem.”
Were not I supported by so great an authority as that of Mr DRYDEN, I should not venture to observe that the taste of most of our English poets, as well as readers, is extremely Gothic. He quotes Monsieur SEGRAIS for a three-fold distinction of the readers of poetry in the first of which he comprehends the rabble of readers, whom he does not treat as such with regard to their quality, but to their numbers and the coarseness of their taste. His words are as follow: "SEGRAIS has distinguished the readers of poetry, according to their capacity of judging, into three classes. [He might have said the same of writers too, if he had pleased.] In the lowest form he places those whom he calls les petits esprits, such things as are our upper-gallery audience in a playhouse; who like nothing but the husk and rind of wit, and prefer a quibble, a conceit, an epigram, before solid sense and elegant expression: these are mob readers. If VIRGIL
and MARTIAL stood for parliament-men, we know already who would carry it. But though they made the greatest appearance in the field, and cry the loudest, the best on't is, they are but a sort of French Huguenots, or Dutch boors, brought over in herds, but not naturali zed; who have not lands of two pounds per annum in
No. 63. Parnassus, and therefore are not privileged to poll. Their authors are of the same level, fit to represent them on a mountebank's stage, or to be masters of the ceremonies in a bear-garden: yet these are they who have the most admirers. But it often happens, to their mortification, that as their readers improve their stock of sense (as they may by reading better books, and by conversation with men of judgment), they soon forsake them."
I must not dismiss this subject without observing, that as Mr LOCKE, in the passage above-mentioned, has discovered the most fruitful source of wit, so there is another of a quite contrary nature to it, which does like. wise branch itself out into several kinds. For not only the resemblance, but the opposition of ideas, does very of ten produce wit; as I could shew in several little points, turns, and antitheses, that I may possibly enlarge upon in some future speculation.
NO. 63.-SATURDAY, MAY 12. 1711.
Humano capiti cervicem pictor equinam
If in a picture, PISO, you should see
HOR. ARS. POET. I.
Or limbs of beasts, of the most different kinds,
Would you not laugh, and think the painter mad?
Whose incoherent style, like sick mens dreams,
DREAM ABOUT TRUE AND FALSE WIT.
Ir is very hard for the mind to disengage itself from a subject in which it has been long employed. The thoughts will be rising of themselves from time to time,
though we give them no encouragement; as the tossings and fluctuations of the sea continue several hours after the winds are laid.
It is to this that I impute my last night's dream or vision, which formed into one continued allegory the several schemes of wit, whether false, mixed, or true, that have been the subject of my late papers.
Methought I was transported into a country that was filled with prodigies and enchantments, governed by the goddess of FALSEHOOD, and intitled the Region of False Wit. There was nothing in the fields, the woods, and the rivers, that appeared natural. Several of the trees blossomed in leaf-gold, some of them produced bone-lace, and some of them precious stones. The fountains bubbled in an opera tune, and were filled with stags, wild boars, and mermaids, that lived among the waters; at the same time that dolphins and several kinds of fish played upon the banks, or took their pastime in the meadows. The birds had many of them golden beaks and human voices. The flowers perfumed the air with smells of incense, ambergrise, and pulvillios; and were so interwoven with one another, that they grew up in pieces of embroidery. The winds were filled with sighs and messages of distant lovers. As I was walking to and fro in this enchanted wilderness, I could not forbear breaking out into soliloquies upon the several wonders which lay before me, when, to my great surprise, I found there were artificial echoes in every walk, that, by repetitions of certain words which I spoke, agreed with me, or contradicted me, in every thing I said. In the midst of my conversation with these invisible companions, I discovered in the centre of a very dark grove a monstrous fabric built after the Gothic manner, and covered with innumerable devices, in that barbarous kind of sculpture. I immediately went up to it, and found it to be a kind of heathen temple consecrated to the god of DULNESS. Upon my entrance I saw the deity of the place dressed in the habit of a monk, with a book in one hand and a rattle in the other. Upon his right hand was INDUSTRY, with a lamp burning before her; and on his left CAPRICE, with a monkey sitting on her shoulder. Before his feet there stood an altar of a very odd make, which, as I afterwards found,
was shaped in that manner to comply with the inscription that surrounded it. Upon the altar there lay several offerings of axes, wings, and eggs, cut in paper, and inscri bed with verses. The temple was filled with votaries, who applied themselves to different diversions, as their fancies directed them. In one part of it I saw a regiment of anagrams, who were continually in motion, turning to the right or to the left, facing about, doubling their ranks, shifting their stations, and throwing thenselves into all the figures and countermarches of the most changeable and perplexed exercise.
Not far from these was a body of acrostics, made up of very disproportioned persons. It was disposed inte three columns, the officer's planting themselves in a line on the left hand of each column. The officers were all of them at least six feet high, and made three rows of very proper men; but the common soldiers, who filled up the spaces between the officers, were such dwarfs, cripples, and scarecrows, that one could hardly look upon them without laughing. There were behind the acrostics two or three files of chronograms, which differed only from the former, as their officers were equipped (like the figure of Time) with an hour-glass in one hand and a scythe in the other, and took their posts promiscuously among the private men whom they commanded.
In the body of the temple, and before the. very Face of the deity, methought I saw the phantom of TRYPHIODORUS the lipogrammatist, engaged in a ball with four and twenty persons, who pursued him by turns through all the intricacies and labyrinths of a country-dance, without being able to overtake him.
Observing several to be very busy at the western end of the temple, I inquired into what they were doing, and found there was in that quarter the great magazine of rebusses. These were several things of the most different. natures tied up in bundles, and thrown upon one another in heaps like faggots. You might behold an anchor, a night-rail, and a hobby-horse bound up together. One of the workmen seeing me very much surprised, told me, there was an infinite deal of wit in several of those bundles, and that he would explain them to me if I pleased. I thanked him for his civility, but told him, I was. in very
great haste at that time. As I was going out of the temple, I observed in one corner of it a cluster of men and women laughing very heartily, and diverting them ́selves at a game of crambo. I heard several double rhymes as I passed by them, which raised a great deal of mirth.
Not far from these was another set of merry people engaged at a diversion, in which the whole jest was to mistake one person for another. To give occasion for these ludicrous mistakes, they were divided into pairs, every pair being covered from head to foot with the same kind of dress, though perhaps there was not the least resemblance in their faces. By this means an old man was . sometimes mistaken for a boy, a woman for a man, and a Black-a-moor for an European, which very often produced great peals of laughter. These I guessed to be a party of puns. But being very desirous to get out of this world of magic, which had almost turned my brain, I left the temple, and crossed over the fields that lay about it with all the speed I could make. I was not gone far before I heard the sound of trumpets and alarms, which seemed to proclaim the march of an enemy; and, as I afterwards found, was in reality what I apprehended it. There appeared at a great distance a very shining light, and in the midst of it a person of a most beautiful aspect; her name was TRUTH. On her right hand there marched a male deity, who bore several quivers on his shoulders, and grasped several arrows in his hand. His name was The approach of these two enemies filled all the territories of FALSE WIT with an unspeakable consternation, insomuch that the goddess of those regions appeared in person on the frontiers, with the several inferior deities, and the different bodies of forces which I had before seen in the temple, who were now drawn up in array, and prepared to give their foes a warm reception. As the march of the enemy was very slow, it gave time to the several inhabitants who bordered upon the regions of FALSEHOOD to draw their forces into a body, with a design to stand upon their guard as neuters, and attend the issue of the combat.
I must here inform my reader, that the frontiers of the enchanted region, which I have before described, were inhabited by the species of MIXED WIT, who made a very