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afraid do great injury, not only to her Majesty's customs, but to the bodies of many of her good subjects.
Having received sundry complaints against these invisible workmen, I ordered the proper officer of my court to ferret them out of their respective caves, and bring them before me, which was yesterday executed accordingly.
The person who appeared against them was a merchant, who had by him a great magazine of wines that he had laid in before the war: but these gentlemen (as he said) had so vitiated the nation's palate, that no man could believe his to be French, because it did not taste like what they sold for such. As a man never pleads better than where his own personal interest is concerned, he exhibited to the court with great eloquence, That this new corporation of druggists had inflamed the bills of mortality, and puzzled the college of physicians with diseases, for which they neither knew a name or cure. He accused some of giving all their customers cholics and megrims; and mentioned one who had boasted, he had a tun of claret by him, that in a fortnight's time should give the gout to a dozen of the healthfullest men in the city, provided that their constitutions were prepared for it by wealth and idleness. He then enlarged, with a great show of reason, upon the prejudice which these mixtures and compositions had done to the brains of the English nation; as is too visible (said he) from many late pamphlets, speeches, and sermons, as well as from the ordinary conversations of the youth of this age. He then quoted an ingenious person, who would undertake to know by a man's writings, the wine he most delighted in; and on that occasion named a certain satirist, whom he had discovered to be the author of a lampoon, by a manifest taste of the sloe, which showed itself in it by much roughness and little spirit.
In the last place, he ascribed to the unnatural tumults and fermentations, which these mixtures raise in our blood, the divisions, heats, and animosities that reign among us; and in particular, asserted most of the modern enthusiasms and agitations to be nothing else but the effects of adulterated port.
The counsel for the brewers had a face so extremely inflamed and illuminated with carbuncles, that I did not wonder to see him an advocate for these sophistications. His rhetoric was likewise such as I should have expected from
the common draught, which I found he often drank to a great excess. Indeed, I was so surprised at his figure and parts, that I ordered him to give me a taste of his usual liquor; which I had no sooner drank, but I found a pimple rising in my forehead; and felt such a sensible decay in my understanding, that I would not proceed in the trial till the fume of it was entirely dissipated.
This notable advocate had little to say in the defence of his clients, but that they were under a necessity of making claret if they would keep open their doors, it being the nature of mankind to love everything that is prohibited. He further pretended to reason, that it might be as profitable to the nation to make French wine as French hats, and concluded with the great advantage that this had already brought to part of the kingdom. Upon which he informed the court, "That the lands in Herefordshire were raised two years' purchase since the beginning of the war."
When I had sent out my summons to these people, I gave at the same time orders to each of them to bring the several ingredients he made use of in distinct phials, which they had done accordingly, and ranged them into two rows on each side of the court. The workmen were drawn up in ranks behind them. The merchant informed me, that in one row of phials were the several colours they dealt in, and in the other the tastes. He then showed me on the right hand one who went by the name of Tom Tintoret, who (as he told me) was the greatest naster in his colouring of any vintner in London. To give me a proof of his art, he took a glass of fair water; and by the infusion of three drops out of one of his phials, converted it into a most beautiful pale Burgundy. Two more of the same kind heightened it into a perfect Languedoc: from thence it passed into a florid Hermitage: and after having gone through two or three other changes, by the addition of a single drop, ended in a very deep Pontac. This ingenious virtuoso, seeing me very much surprised at his art, told me, That he had not an opportunity of showing it in perfection, having only made use of water for the ground-work of his colouring; but that if I were to see an operation upon liquors of stronger bodies, the art would appear to much greater advantage. He added, "That he doubted not but it would please my curiosity to see the cider of one apple take only a vermilion, when another, with a less quantity of the
same infusion, would rise into a dark purple, according to the different texture of parts in the liquor.' He informed me also, "That he could hit the different shades and degrees of red, as they appear in the pink and the rose, the clove and the carnation, as he had Rhenish or Moselle, Perry or White Port, to work in."
I was so satisfied with the ingenuity of this virtuoso, that, after having advised him to quit so dishonest a profession, I promised him, in consideration of his great genius, to recommend him as a partner to a friend of mine, who has heaped up great riches, and is a scarlet dyer.
The artists on my other hand were ordered in the second place to make some experiments of their skill before me: upon which the famous Harry Sippet stept out, and asked me, "What I would be pleased to drink?" At the same time he filled out three or four white liquors in a glass, and told me, "That it should be what I pleased to call for;" adding very learnedly, "That the liquor before him was as the naked substance or first matter of his compound, to which he and his friend, who stood over against him, could give what accidents or form they pleased." Finding him so great a philosopher, I desired he would convey into it the qualities and essence of right Bourdeaux. "Coming, coming, sir," (said he,) with the air of a drawer; and after having cast his eye on the several tastes and flavours that stood before him, he took up a little cruet that was filled with a kind of inky juice, and pouring some of it out into the glass of white wine, presented it to me, and told me, "This was the wine over which most of the business of the last term had been despatched." I must confess, I looked upon that sooty drug which he held up in his cruet, as the quintessence of English Bourdeaux, and therefore desired him to give me a glass of it by itself, which he did with great unwillingness. My cat at that time sat by me, upon the elbow of my chair; and as I did not care for making the experiment upon myself, I reached it to her to sip of it, which had like to have cost her her life; for notwithstanding it flung her at first into freakish tricks, quite contrary to her usual gravity, in less than a quarter of an hour she fell into convulsions; and had it not been a creature more tenacious of life than any other, would certainly have died under the operation.
I was so incensed by the tortures of my innocent domestic,
and the unworthy dealings of these men, that I told them, if each of them had as many lives as the injured creature before them, they deserved to forfeit them for the pernicious arts which they used for their profit. I therefore bid them look upon themselves as no better than a kind of assassins and murderers within the law. However, since they had dealt so clearly with me, and laid before me their whole practice, I dismissed them for that time; with a particular request, That they would not poison any of my friends and acquaintance, and take to some honest livelihood without loss of time.
For my own part, I have resolved hereafter to be very careful in my liquors, and have agreed with a friend of mine in the army, upon their next march, to secure me two hogsheads of the best stomach-wine in the cellars of Versailles, for the good of my lucubrations, and the comfort of my old age.
No. 133. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 1709.
Dum tacent, clamant. TULL.
Sheer Lane, February 13.
SILENCE is sometimes more significant and sublime than the most noble and expressive eloquence, and is on many occasions the indication of a great mind. Several authors have treated of silence as a part of duty and discretion, but none of them have considered it in this light. Homer compares the noise and clamour of the Trojans advancing towards the enemy, to the cackling of cranes when they invade an army of pigmies. On the contrary, he makes his countrymen and favourites, the Greeks, move forward in a regular determined march, and in the depth of silence. I find, in the accounts which are given us of some of the more eastern nations, where the inhabitants are disposed by their constitutions and climates to higher strains of thought and more elevated raptures than what we feel in the northern regions of the world, that silence is a religious exercise among them. For when their public devotions are in the greatest fervour, and their hearts lifted up as high as words can raise them, there are certain suspensions of sound and motion for
a time, in which the mind is left to itself, and supposed to swell with such secret conceptions as are too big for utterance. I have myself been wonderfully delighted with a master-piece of music, when in the very tumult and ferment of their harmony, all the voices and instruments have stopped short on a sudden, and after a little pause recovered themselves again as it were, and renewed the concert in all its parts. Methoughts this short interval of silence has had more music in it than any the same space of time before or after it. There are two instances of silence in the two greatest poets that ever wrote, which have something in them as sublime as any of the speeches in their whole works. The first is that of Ajax, in the eleventh book of the Odyssey. Ulysses, who had been the rival of this great man in his life, as well as the occasion of his death, upon meeting his shade in the region of departed heroes, makes his submission to him with an humility next to adoration, which the other passes over with dumb sullen majesty, and such a silence, as (to use the words of Longinius) had more greatness in it than anything he could have spoken.
The next instance I shall mention is in Virgil, where the poet, doubtless, imitates this silence of Ajax in that of Dido; though I do not know that any of his commentators have taken notice of it. Æneas, finding, among the shades of despairing lovers, the ghost of her who had lately died for him, with the wound still fresh upon her, addresses himself to her with expanded arms, floods of tears, and the most passionate professions of his own innocence as to what had happened; all which Dido receives with the dignity and disdain of a resenting lover and an injured queen; and is so far from vouchsafing him an answer, that she does not give him a single look. The poet represents her as turning away her face from him while he spoke to her; and after having kept her eyes for some time upon the ground, as one that heard and contemned his protestations, flying from him into the grove of myrtle, and into the arms of another, whose fidelity had deserved her love.
I have often thought our writers of tragedy have been very defective in this particular, and that they might have. given great beauty to their works, by certain stops and pauses in the representation of such passions, as it is not in the power of language to express. There is something like