Which of these reasons soever may be looked upon as the most probable, I think the Irishman's thought was very natural, who after some hours conversation with a female orator, told her, that he believed her tongue was very glad when she was asleep, for that it had not a moment's rest all the while she was awake.

That excellent old ballad of the 'Wanton Wife of Bath' has the following remarkable lines:

I think, quoth Thomas, women's tongues

Of aspen leaves are made.

And Ovid, though in a description of a very barbarous circumstance, tells us, that when the tongue of a beautiful female was cut out, and thrown upon the ground, it could not forbear muttering even in that posture:

-Comprehensam forcipe linguam

Abstulit ense fero. Radix micat ultima linguæ.
Ipsa jacet, terræque tremens immurmurat atræ;
Utque salire solet mutilata cauda colubræ,



-The blade had cut

Her tongue sheer-off, close to the trembling root:
The mangled part still quiver'd on the ground,
Murmuring with a faint imperfect sound;
And, as a serpent writhes his wounded train,
Uneasy, panting, and possess'd with pai.


If a tongue would be talking without a mouth, what could it have done when it had all its organs of speech, and accomplices of sound, about it? I might here mention the story of the pippinwoman, had not' I some reason to look upon it as fabulous."

And with its everlasting clack

Set all men's ears upon the rack.

Part iii. c. 2. v. 443.-G.

1 I have followed Tickell for the position of the not, wł ich some modern editors place after I.—G.

* This is a fine stroke of humor after having admitted Ovid's tale of


I must confess I am so wonderfully caarmed with the music of this little instrument, that I would by no means discourage it. All that I aim at by this dissertation is, to cure it of several disagreeable notes, and in particular of those little jarrings and dissonances which arise from anger, censoriousness, gossiping, and coquetry. In short, I would have it always tuned by good-nature, truth, discretion, and sincerity. C.

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WHEN I make choice of a subject that has not been treated on by others, I throw together my reflections on it without any order or method, so that they may appear rather in the looseness and freedom of an essay, than in the regularity of a set discourse. It is after this manner that I shall consider laughter and ridicule in my present paper.

Man is the merriest species of the creation, all above and below him are serious. He sees things in a different light from other beings, and finds his mirth rising from objects that perhaps cause something like pity or displeasure in higher natures. Laugh

Philomel, without any objections to its veracity. The story here referred to is of an apple woman, who, when the Thames was frozen over, was said to have had her head cut off by the ice. It is humorously told in Gay's Trivia

'The crackling chrystal yields, she sinks, she dies,
Her head chopt off, from her lost shoulders flies;
Pippins she cried, but death her voice confounds,
And pip-pip-pip along the ice resounds.


Book II. v. 875, &c.-C

ter is, indeed, a very good counterpoise to the spleen; and it seems but reasonable that we should be capable of receiving joy from what is no real good to us, since we can receive grief from what is no real evil.

I have in my forty-seventh paper raised a speculation on the notion of a modern philosopher, who describes the first motive of laughter to be a secret comparison which we make between ourselves, and the persons we laugh at; or, in other words, that satisfaction which we receive from the opinion of some pre-eminence in ourselves, when we see the absurdities of another, or when we reflect on any past absurdities of our own. This seems to hold in most cases, and we may observe that the vainest part of man, kind are the most addicted to this passion.

I have read a sermon of a conventual in the church of Rome on those words of the wise man; 'I said of Laughter, it is mad; and of Mirth, what does it?' Upon which he laid it down as a point of doctrine, that laughter was the effect of original sin, and that Adam could not laugh before the fall.

Laughter, while it lasts, slackens and unbraces the mind, weakens the faculties, and causes a kind of remissness and dissolution in all the powers of the soul: and thus far it may be looked upon as a weakness in the composition of human nature. But if we consider the frequent reliefs we receive from it, and how often it breaks the gloom which is apt to depress the mind and damp our spirits with transient and unexpected gleams of joy, oue would take care not to grow too wise for so great a pleasure of life.

The talent of turning men into ridicule, and exposing to laugh ter those one converses with, is the qualification of little ungene rous tempers. A young man with this cast of mind cuts himsel off from all manner of improvement. Every one has his flaws and weaknesses; nay, the greatest blemishes are often found i


the most shining characters; but what an absurd thing is it to pass over all the valuable parts of a man, and fix our attention on his infirmities? to observe his imperfections more than his virtues? and to make use of him for the sport of others, rather than for our own improvement?

We therefore very often find, that persons the most accomplished in ridicule, are those who are very shrewd at hitting a blot, without exerting any thing masterly in themselves. there are many eminent critics who never writ a good line, there are many admirable buffoons that animadvert upon every single defect in another, without ever discovering the least beauty of their own. By this means, these unlucky little wits often gain reputation in the esteem of vulgar minds, and raise themselves above persons of much more laudable characters.

If the talent of ridicule were employed to laugh men out of vice and folly, it might be of some use to the world; but instead of this, we find that it is generally made use of to laugh men out of virtue and good sense, by attacking every thing that is solemn and serious, decent and praise-worthy in human life.

We may observe, that in the first ages of the world, when the great souls and master- pieces of human nature were pro duced, men shined by a noble simplicity of behaviour, and were strangers to those little embellishments which are so fashionable in our present conversation. And it is very remarkable, that notwithstanding we fall short at present of the ancients in poetry, painting, oratory, history, architecture, and all the noble arts and sciences which depend more upon genius than experience, we exceed them as much in doggerel, humour, burlesque, and all the trivial acts of ridicule. We meet with more raillery among the moderns, but more good sense among the ancients.

The two great branches of ridicule in writing are comedy and burlesque. The first ridicules persons by drawing them in their

proper characters, the other by drawing them quite unlike themselves. Burlesque is therefore of two kinds; the first represents mean persons in accoutrements of heroes, the other describes great persons acting and speaking like the basest among the people. Don Quixote is an instance of the first, and Lucian's gods of the second. It is a dispute among the critics, whether burlesque poetry runs best in heroic verse, like that of the Dispen sary; or in doggerel, like that of Hudibras. I think where the low character is to be raised, the heroic is the proper measure; but when an hero is to be pulled down and degraded, it is done best in doggerel.


If Hudibras had been set out with as much wit and humour in heroic verse as he is in doggerel, he would have made a much more agreeable figure than he does; though the generality of his readers are so wonderfully pleased with the double rhimes, that I do not expect many will be of my opinion in this particular.

I shall conclude this essay upon laughter with observing, that the metaphor of laughing, applied to fields and meadows when they are in flower, or to trees when they are in blossom, runs through all languages,' which I have not observed of any other metaphor, excepting that of fire and burning when they are applied to love. This shews that we naturally regard laughter, as what is in itself both amiable and beautiful. For this reason, likewise, Venus has gained the title of piloμcídns, the laughterloving dame, as Waller has translated it, and is represented by Horace as the goddess who delights in laughter. Milton, in a A poem by Dr. Garth, which had a great cotemporary reputation, though now but little known.

⚫ Garth did not write his own Dispensary.-G.

'But has no where been used with such effect, as in Chiabrera's 47th canzonetta and Bryant's 'Gladness of Nature,' to which I cannot help calling the reader's attention, in this connexion, although they scarcely come within a strict interpretation of the language of the text.-G.

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