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that they formed in it a short morning's dream, which I shall communicate to my reader, rather as the first sketch and outlines of a vision, than as a finished piece.
I dreamt that I was admitted into a long, spacious gallery, which had one side covered with pieces of all the famous painters who are now living, and the other with the works of the greatest masters that are dead.
On the side of the living, I saw several persons busy in drawing, colouring, and designing; on the side of the dead painters, I could not discover more than one person at work, who was exceeding slow in his motions, and wonderfully nice in his touches.
I was resolved to examine the several artists that stood before me, and accordingly applied myself to the side of the living. The first I observed at work in this part of the gallery was Vanity, with his hair tied behind him in a ribbon, and dressed like a Frenchman.
All the faces he drew were very remarkable for their smiles, and a certain smirking air, which he bestowed indifferently on every age and degree of either sex. The toujours gai appeared even in his judges, bishops, and privy-councillors: in a word, all his men were petits maitres, and all his women coquettes. The drapery of his figures was extremely well suited to his faces, and was made up of all the glaring colours that could be mixed together; every part of the dress was in a flutter, and endeavoured to distinguish itself above the
On the left hand of Vanity stood a laborious workman, who I found was his humble admirer, and copied after him. He was dressed like a German, and had a very hard name, that sounded something like Stupidity.
The third artist that I looked over was Fantasque, dressed like a Venetian scaramouch. He had an excellent hand at Chimæra, and dealt very much in distortions and grimaces. He would sometimes affright himself with the phantoms that flowed from his pencil. In short, the most elaborate of his pieces was at best but a terrifying dream ; and one could say nothing more of his finest figures, than that they were agreeable monsters.
The fourth person I examined, was very remarkable for his hasty hand, which left his picture so unfinished, that the
1 Better-"that arose."
beauty in the picture (which was designed to continue as a monument of it1 to posterity) faded sooner than in the person after whom it was drawn. He made so much haste to despatch his business, that he neither gave himself time to clean his pencils nor mix his colours. The name of this expeditious workman was Avarice.
Not far from this artist I saw another of a quite different nature, who was dressed in the habit of a Dutchman, and known by the name of Industry. His figures were wonderfully laboured: if he drew the portraiture of a man, he did not omit a single hair in his face; if the figure of a ship, there was not a rope among the tackle that escaped him. He had likewise hung a great part of the wall with nightpieces, that seemed to show themselves by the candles which were lighted up in several parts of them; and were so inflamed by the sunshine which accidentally fell upon them, that at first sight I could scarce forbear crying out, Fire.
The five foregoing artists were the most considerable on this side the gallery; there were indeed several others whom I had not time to look into. One of them, however, I could not forbear observing, who was very busy in retouching the finest pieces, though he produced no originals of his own. His pencil aggravated every feature that was before over-charged, loaded every defect, and poisoned every colour it touched. Though this workman did so much mischief on this side of the living, he never turned his eye towards that of the dead. His name was Envy.
Having taken a cursory view of one side of the gallery, I turned myself to that which was filled by the works of those great masters that were dead; when immediately I fancied myself standing before a multitude of spectators, and thousands of eyes looking upon me at once; for all before me appeared so like men and women, that I almost forgot they were pictures. Raphael's figures stood in one row, Titian's in another, Guido Rheni's in a third. One part of the wall was peopled by Hannibal Carrache, another by Correggio, and another by Rubens. To be short, there was not a great master among the dead who had not contributed to the embellishment of this side of the gallery. The persons that owed their being to these several masters, appeared all of them to be real and alive, and differed among one another 1 Of it.] i. e. of the beauty: a little careless and inaccurate.
only in the variety of their shapes, complexions, and clothes; so that they looked like different nations of the same species. Observing an old man (who was the same person I before mentioned, as the only artist that was at work on this side of the gallery) creeping up and down from one picture to another, and retouching all the fine pieces that stood before me, I could not but be very attentive to all his motions. I found his pencil was so very light, that it worked imperceptibly, and after a thousand touches, scarce produced any visible effect in the picture on which he was employed. However, as he busied himself incessantly, and repeated touch after touch without rest or intermission, he wore off insensibly every little disagreeable gloss that hung upon a figure; he also added such a beautiful brown to the shades, and mellowness to the colours, that he made every picture appear more perfect than when it came fresh from the master's pencil. I could not forbear looking upon the face of this ancient workman, and immediately, by the long lock of hair upon his forehead, discovered him to be Time.
Whether it were because the thread of my dream was at an end, I cannot tell, but upon my taking a survey of this imaginary old man, my sleep left me.
No. 85. THURSDAY, JUNE 7.
Interdum speciosa locis, morataque recte
Quam versus inopes rerum, nugæque canoræ. HOR.
It is the custom of the Mahometans, if they see any printed or written paper upon the ground, to take it up, and lay it aside carefully, as not knowing but it may contain some piece of their Alcoran. I must confess I have so much of the Mussulman in me, that I cannot forbear looking into every printed paper which comes in my way, under whatsoever despicable circumstances it may appear: for as no mortal author,1 in the ordinary fate and vicissitude of things, knows
No mortal author.] The epithet "mortal" as applied, in this place, to 66 author," is very expressive. But the humour of the expression depends on knowing that no mortal man is used, in familiar discourse, simply, for
to what use his works may, some time or other, be applied, a man may often meet with very celebrated names in a paper of tobacco. I have lighted my pipe more than once with the writings of a prelate; and know a friend of mine, who, for these several years, has converted the essays of a man of quality into a kind of fringe for his candlesticks. I remember, in particular, after having read over a poem of an eminent author on a victory, I met with several fragments of it upon the next rejoicing day, which had been employed in squibs and crackers, and by that means celebrated its subject in a double capacity. I once met with a page of Mr. Baxter under a Christmas pie. Whether or no the pastry-cook had made use of it through chance or waggery, for the defence of that superstitious viand, I know not; but upon the perusal of it, I conceived so good an idea of the author's piety, that I bought the whole book. I have often profited by these accidental readings, and have sometimes found very curious pieces, that are either out of print, or not to be met with in the shops of our London booksellers. For this reason, when my friends take a survey of my library, they are very much surprised to find, upon the shelf of folios, two long bandboxes standing upright among my books, till I let them see that they are both of them lined with deep erudition and abstruse literature. I might likewise mention a paper-kite, from which I have received great improvement; and a hatcase, which I would not exchange for all the beavers in Great Britain. This my inquisitive temper, or rather impertinent humour of prying into all sorts of writing, with my natural aversion to loquacity, gives me a good deal of employment when I enter any house in the country; for I cannot for my heart leave a room, before I have thoroughly studied the walls of it, and examined the several printed papers which are usually pasted upon them. The last piece that I met with upon this occasion, gave me a most exquisite pleasure. My reader will think I am not serious, when I acquaint him, that the piece I am going to speak of was the
The Puritans scrupled eating what are called Christmas pies. Hence the raillery. But that this raillery might not be construed to extend further than the subject of it, he takes care, at the same time, to speak well of the author's [Mr. Baxter's] general worth and piety. So wise was this excellent writer, even in his mirth!
old ballad of the Two Children in the Wood, which is one of the darling songs of the common people, and has been the delight of most Englishmen in some part of their age.
This song is a plain, simple copy of nature, destitute of all the helps and ornaments of art. The tale of it is a pretty tragical story, and pleases for no other reason but because it is a copy of nature. There is even a despicable simplicity in the verse; and yet, because the sentiments appear genuine and unaffected, they are able to move the mind of the most polite reader with inward meltings of humanity and compassion. The incidents grow out of the subject, and are such as are the most proper to excite pity; for which reason the whole narration has something in it very moving, notwithstanding the author of it (whoever he was) has delivered it in such an abject phrase and poorness of expression, that the quoting any part of it would look like a design of turning it into ridicule. But though the language is mean, the thoughts, as I have before said, from one end to the other are natural, and therefore cannot fail to please those who are not judges of language, or those who, notwithstanding they are judges of language, have a true and unprejudiced taste of nature. The condition, speech, and behaviour of the dying parents, with the age, innocence, and distress of the children, are set forth in such tender circumstances, that it is impossible for a reader of common humanity not to be affected with them. As for the circumstance of the Robin-red-breast, it is indeed a little poetical ornament; and to show the genius of the author amidst all his simplicity, it is just the same kind of fiction which one of the greatest of the Latin poets has made use of upon a parallel occasion; I mean that passage in Horace, where he describes himself when he was a child, fallen asleep in a desert wood, and covered with leaves by the turtles that took pity on him.
I have heard that the late Lord Dorset, who had the greatest wit tempered with the greatest candour, and was one of the finest critics, as well as the best poets, of his age, had a numerous collection of old English ballads, and took a