« VorigeDoorgaan »
No. 63.] SATURDAY, MAY 12, 1711.
Humano capiti cervicem pictor equinam
Or limbs of beasts, of the most different kinds,
It is very hard for the mind to disengage itself from a subject on 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 entitled 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, ambergris, 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 everything I said. In the midst of my conversation with these invisible companions, I discovered in the center 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 Dullness 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 burn ing 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 afterward 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 inscribed with verses. The temple was filled with votaries, who applied themselves to different diversions, as
*Pulvillios, sweet scents.
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 themselves into all the figures and counter-marches of the most changeable and perplexed exercise.
Not far from these was the body of acrostics, made up of very disproportioned persons. It was disposed into three columns, the officers 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 rebuses. These were several things of the most different natures tied up in bundles, and thrown upon one another in heaps like fagots. 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 themselves 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 fudicrous 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 a 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 afterward 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 Wit. The approach of these two enemies filled all the territories of
False Wit with an unspeakable consternation, inso- | ror. As I was gazing on him, to my unspe
I must here inform my reader, that the frontiers of the enchanted region which I have before described, were inhabited by a species of Mixed Wit, who made a very odd appearance when they were mustered together in an army. There were men whose bodies were stuck full of darts, and women whose eyes were burning-glasses: men that had hearts of fire, and women that had breasts of snow. It would be endless to describe several monsters of the like nature, that composed this great army; which immediately fell asunder, and divided itself into two parts, the one half throwing themselves behind the banners of Truth, and the other behind those of Falsehood.
The goddess of Falsehood was of a gigantic stature, and advanced some paces before the front of her army; but as the dazzling light which flowed from Truth began to shine upon her, she faded insensibly; insomuch that in a little space, she looked rather like a huge phantom, than a real substance. At length, as the goddess of Truth approached still nearer to her, she fell away entirely, and vanished amidst the brightness of her presence; so that there did not remain the least trace or impression of her figure in the place where she had been seen.
As at the rising of the sun the constellations grow thin, and the stars go out one after another, till the whole hemisphere is extinguished; such was the vanishing of the goddess and not only of the goddess herself, but of the whole army that attended her, which sympathized with their leader, and shrank into nothing, in proportion as the goddess disappeared. At the same time the whole temple sank, the fish betook themselves to the streams and the wild beasts to the woods, the fountains recovered their murmurs, the birds their voices, the trees their leaves, the flowers their scents, and the whole face of nature its true and genuine appearance. Though I still continued asleep, I fancied myself, as it were, awakened out of a dream, when I saw this region of prodigies restored to woods and rivers, fields and meadows.
Upon the removal of that wild scene of wonders, which had very much disturbed my imagination, I took a full survey of the persons of Wit and Truth; for indeed it was impossible to look upon the first, without seeing the other at the same time. There was behind them a strong compact body of figures. The genius of Heroic Poetry appeared with a sword in her hand, and a laurel on her head. Tragedy was crowned with cypress, and covered with robes dipped in blood. Satire had smiles in her look, and a dagger under her garment. Rhetoric was known by her thunderbolt; and Comedy by her mask. After several other figures, Epigram marched up in the rear, who had been posted there at the beginning of the expedition, that he might not revolt to the enemy, whom he was suspected to favor in his heart. I was very much awed and delighted with the appearance of the god of Wit; there was something so amiable, and yet so piercing in his looks, as inspired me at once with love and ter
No. 64.] MONDAY, MAY 14, 171
Hie vivimus ambitiosa
THE most improper things we commit conduct of our lives, we are led into by th of fashion. Instances might be given, in a prevailing custom makes us act against th of nature, law, and common sense; but at I shall confine my consideration to the e has upon men's minds, by looking into our vior when it is the fashion to go into mo The custom of representing the grief we ha the loss of the dead by our habits, certain its rise from the real sorrow of such as w much distressed to take the proper care they of their dress. By degrees it prevailed, tha as had this inward oppression upon their made an apology for not joining with the the world in their ordinary diversions by suited to their condition. This, therefore, first assumed by such only as were und distress; to whom it was a relief that the nothing about them so light and gay as to some to the gloom and melancholy of their reflections, or that might misrepresent th others. In process of time this laudable d tion of the sorrowful was lost, and mouri now worn by heirs and widows. You see n but magnificence and solemnity in the eq of the relict, and an air of release from se in the pomp of a son who has lost a y father. This fashion of sorrow has now a generous part of the ceremonial between and sovereigns, who, in the language of tions, are styled brothers to each other, a on the purple* upon the death of any po with whom they live in amity. Courtiers, who wish themselves such, are immediately with grief from head to foot upon this dis their prince; so that one may know by th buckles of a gentleman-usher, what deg friendship any deceased monarch maintain the court to which he belongs. A good co habit and behavior is hieroglyphical on th casions. He deals much in whispers, a may see he dresses according to the best gence.
The general affectation among men, of ing greater than they are, makes the whole run into the habits of the court. You lady, who the day before was as various as bow, upon the time appointed for begin mourn, as dark as a cloud. This humor d prevail only on those whose fortunes can any change in their equipage, nor on tho whose incomes demand the wantonness appearances; but on such also who ha enough to clothe them. An old acquaint mine, of ninety pounds a year, who has n the vanity of being a man of fashion deep heart, is very much put to it to bear the n of princes. He made a new black suit up death of the King of Spain, he turned it King of Portugal, and he now keeps his c while it is scouring for the Emperor. He i
*Royal and princely mourners are clad in pur
No. 65.] TUESDAY, MAY 15, 1711.
economist in his extravagance, and makes only a
Without farther preface, I am going to look some of our most applauded plays, and see whether they deserve the figure they at present bear in the imaginations of men or not.
In reflecting upon these works, I shall chiefly dwell upon that for which each respective play is most celebrated. The present paper shall be employed upon Sir Fopling Flutter. The received character of this play is, that it is the pattern of genteel comedy. Dorimant and Harriet are the characters of greatest consequence, and if these are low and mean, the reputation of the play is very unjust.
I had been wonderfully at a loss for many months together, to guess at the character of a man who came now and then to our coffee-house. He ever ended a newspaper with this reflection, "Well, I see all the foreign princes are in good health." If you asked, "Pray, Sir, what says the Postman from Vienna?" He answered, "Make us thankful, the German princes are all well."-into "What does he say from Barcelona ?"-" He does not speak but that the country agrees very well with the new Queen." After very much inquiry, I found this man of universal loyalty was a wholesale dealer in silks and ribbons. His way is, it seems, if he hires a weaver or workman, to have it inserted in his articles, "that all this shall be well and truly performed, provided no foreign potentate shall depart this life within the time above-mentioned." It happens that in all public mournings that the many trades which depend upon our habits, are during that folly either pinched I will take for granted, that a fine gentleman with present want, or terrified with the apparent should be honest in his actions, and refined in his approach of it. All the atonement which men language. Instead of this, our hero in this piece can make for wanton expenses (which is a sort is a direct knave in his designs, and a clown in of insulting the scarcity under which others la- his language. Bellair is his admirer and friend; bor) is, that the superfluities of the wealthy give in return for which, because he is forsooth a greatsupplies to the necessities of the poor; but instead er wit than his said friend, he thinks it reasonof any other good arising from the affectation of able to persuade him to marry a young lady, whose being in courtly habits of mourning, all order virtue, he thinks, will last no longer than till she seems to be destroyed by it: and the true honor is a wife, and then she cannot but fall to his which one court does to another on that occasion, share, as he is an irresistible fine gentleman. The loses its force and efficacy. When a foreign | falsehood to Mrs. Loveit, and the barbarity of triminister beholds the court of a nation (which umphing over her anguish for losing him, is flourishes in riches and plenty) lay aside, upon another instance of his honesty as well as his the loss of his master, all marks of splendor and good-nature. As to his fine language, he calls magnificence, though the head of such a joyful the orange-woman, who, it seems, is inclined to people, he will conceive a greater idea of the hon- grow fat, "An overgrown jade, with a flasket or done to his master, than when he sees the of guts before her ;" and salutes her with a pretty generality of the people in the same habit. When phrase of "How now, Double Tripe?" Upon one is afraid to ask the wife of a tradesman whom the mention of a country-gentlewoman, whom he she has lost of her family; and after some prepa- knows nothing of (no one can imagine why), ration, endeavors to know whom she mourns for; he will lay his life she is some awkward illhow ridiculous is it to hear her explain herself, fashioned country toad, who, not having above "That we have lost one of the house of Austria!" four dozen of hairs on her head, has adorned her Princes are elevated so highly above the rest of baldness with a large white furze, that she may mankind, that it is a presumptuous distinction to look sparkishly in the fore-front of the king's box take a part in honors done to their memories, ex- at an old play." Unnatural mixture of senseless cept we have authority for it by being related in common-place! a particular manner to the court which pays the veneration to their friendship, and seems to ex-poor footman, "If he did not wait better," he press on such an occasion the sense of the uncer- would turn him away-in the insolent phrase of, tainty of human life in general, by assuming the "I'll uncase you." habit of sorrow, though in the full possession of triumph and royalty.
As to the generosity of his temper, he tells his
Now for Mrs. Harriet. She laughs at obedience to an absent mother, whose tenderness Busy de
"The Man of the Mode." Sir Fopling was Beau Hewit, son of Sir Thomas Hewit, of Pishiobury, in Hertfordshire, Bart; and the author's own character is represented in Bell
scribes to be very exquisite, for "that she is so pleased with finding Harriet again, that she cannot chide her for being out of the way." This witty daughter and fine lady has so little respect for this good woman, that she ridicules her air in taking leave, and cries, "In what struggle is my poor mother yonder! See, see, her head tottering, her eyes staring, and her under-lip trembling.' But all this is atoned for, because "she has more wit than is usual in her sex, and as much malice, though she is as wild as you could wish her, and has a demureness in her looks that makes it so surprising." Then to recommend her as a fit spouse for his hero, the poet makes her speak her sense of marriage very ingenuously: I think," says she, "I might be brought to endure him, and that is all a reasonable woman should expect in a husband." It is, methinks, unnatural, that we are not made to understand, how she that was bred under a silly, pious old mother, that would never trust her out of her sight, came to be so polite.
It cannot be denied, but that the negligence of everything which engages the attention of the sober and valuable part of mankind, appears very well drawn in this piece. But it is denied, that it is necessary to the character of a fine gentleman, that he should in that manner trample upon all order and decency. As for the character of Dorimant, it is more of a coxcomb than that of Fopling. He says of one of his companions, that a good correspondence between them is their mutual interest. Speaking of that friend, he declares, their being much together "makes the women think the better of his understanding, and judge more favorably of my reputation. It makes him pass upon some for a man of very good sense, and me upon others for a very civil person." This whole celebrated piece is a perfect contradiction to good manners, good sense, and common honesty; and as there is nothing in it but what is built upon the ruin of virtue and innocence, according to the notion of merit in this comedy, I take the shoemaker* to be in reality the fine gentleman of the play: for it seems he is an atheist, if we may depend upon his character as given by the orange-woman, who is herself far from being the lowest in the play. She says of a fine man who is Dorimant's companion, there is not such another heathen in the town, except the shoemaker." His pretension to be the hero of the drama, appears still more in his own description of his way of living with his lady. "There is," says he, "never a man in town lives more like a gentleman with his wife than I do; I never mind her motions; she never inquires. into mine. We speak to one another civilly, hate one another heartily; and because it is vulgar to lie and soak together, we have each of us our several settlebed." That of "soaking together" is as good as if Dorimant had spoken it himself; and I think, since he puts human nature in as ugly a form as the circumstance will bear, and is a staunch unbeliever, he is very much wronged in having no part of the good fortune bestowed in the last act.
To speak plain of this whole work, I think nothing but being lost to a sense of innocence and virtue, can make any one see this comedy, without observing more frequent occasion to move sorrow and indignation, than mirth and laughter. At the same time I allow it to be nature, but it is nature in its utmost corruption and degeneracy.† R.
*He also was a real person, and got vast employment by the representation of him in this play.
How could it be otherwise, when the author of this play was Sir George Etheridge, and the character of Dorimant that of Wilmot, Earl of Rochester?
"I take the freedom of asking your ad behalf of a young country kinswoman of who is lately come to town, and under my c her education. She is very pretty, but you imagine how unformed a creature it is. comes to my hands just as nature left he finished, and without any acquired improve When I look on her I often think of the Sauvage mentioned in one of your papers. Mr. Spectator, help me to make her comp the visible graces of speech, and the dun quence of motion; for she is at present a stranger to both. She knows no way to e herself but by her tongue, and that always nify her meaning. Her eyes serve her only with, and she is utterly a foreigner to the la of looks and glances. In this I fancy you help her better than anybody. I have be two months in teaching her to sigh when not concerned, and to smile when she pleased, and am ashamed to own she make or no improvement. Then she is no mor now to walk, than she was to go at a yea By walking, you will easily know I mea regular but easy motion which gives our p so irresistible a grace, as if we moved to and is a kind of disengaged figure; or, if so speak, recitative dancing. But the want I cannot blame in her, for I find she has and means nothing by walking but to chan place. I could pardon too her blushing, knew how to carry herself in it, and if it d manifestly injure her complexion.
They tell me you are a person who hav the world, and are a judge of fine breeding; makes me ambitious of some instructions fro for her improvement: which when you have f me with, I shall farther advise with you ab disposal of this fair forester in marriage: for make it no secret to you, that her person an cation are to be her fortune.
"I am, Sir, "Your very humble servan "CELIME SIR, "Being employed by Celimene to make send to you her letter, I make bold to recon the case therein mentioned to your conside because she and I happen to differ a little notions. I, who am a rough man, am afra young girl is in a fair way to be spoiled: the pray, Mr. Spectator, let us have your opin this fine thing called fine breeding; for I am it differs too much from that plain thing good breeding.
"Your most humble serva
The general mistake among us in the edu our children is, that in our daughters we tak
mien and great agility which he had acquired by that exercise, distinguished him above the rest in the armies both of Greeks and Trojans.
He adds, that Pyrrhus gained more reputation by inventing the dance which is called after his name, than by all his other actions: that the Lacedæmonians, who were the bravest people in Greece, gave great encouragement to this diversion, and made their Hormus (a dance much re
Lastly, he puts him in mind that Socrates (who, in the judgment of Apollo, was the wisest of men), was not only a professed admirer of this exercise in others, but learned it himself when he was an old man.
of their persons and neglect their minds; in our sons we are so intent upon adorning their minds, that we wholly neglect their bodies. It is from this that you shall see a young lady celebrated and admired in all the assemblies about town, when her elder brother is afraid to come into a room. From this ill management it arises, that we frequently observe a man's life is half spent, before he is taken notice of; and a woman in the prime of her years is out of fashion and neglected.sembling the French Brawl) famous all over Asia: The boy I shall consider upon some other occa- that there were still extant some Thessalonian sion, and at present stick to the girl: and I am the statues erected to the honor of their best dancers; more inclined to this, because I have several let and that he wondered how his brother philosopher ters which complain to me, that my female readers could declare himself against the opinions of those have not understood me for some days last past, two persons whom he professed so much to and take themselves to be unconcerned in the pre-admire-Homer and Hesiod; the latter of which sent turn of my writing.—When a girl is safely compares valor and dancing together, and says, brought from her nurse, before she is capable of that "the gods have bestowed fortitude on some forming one single notion of anything in life, she men, and on others a disposition for dancing." is delivered to the hands of her dancing-master; and with a collar round her neck, the pretty, wild thing is taught a fantastical gravity of behavior, and forced to a particular way of holding her head, heaving her breast, and moving with her whole body; and all this under pain of never having a husband, if she steps, looks, or moves awry. This gives the young lady wonderful workings of imagination, what is to pass between her and this husband, that she is every moment told of, and for whom she seems to be educated. Thus her fancy is engaged to turn all her endeavors to the ornament of her person, as what must determine her good and ill in this life: and she naturally thinks, if she is tall enough, she is wise enough, for any-man about 'Change. thing for which her education makes her think she is designed. To make her an agreeable person is the main purpose of her parents; to that is all their cost, to that all their care directed; and from this general folly of parents we owe our present numerous race of coquettes. These reflections puzzle me, when I think of giving my advice on the subject of managing the wild thing mentioned in the letter of my correspondent. But sure there is a middle way to be followed; the management of a young lady's person is not to be overlooked, but the erudition of her mind is much more to be regarded. According as this is managed, you will see the mind follow the appetites of the body, or the body express the virtues of the mind.
The morose philosopher is so much affected by these and some other authorities, that he becomes a convert to his friend, and desires he would take him with him when he went to his next ball.
I love to shelter myself under the examples of great men; and I think I have sufficiently showed that it is not below the dignity of these my speculations to take notice of the following letter, which I suppose is sent me by some substantial trades
Cleomira dances with all the elegance of motion imaginable; but her eyes are so chastised with the simplicity and innocence of her thoughts, that she raises in her beholders admiration and good-will, but no loose hope or wild imagination. The true art in this case is, to make the mind and body improve together; and, if possible, to make gesture follow thought, and not let thought be employed upon gesture.-R.
No. 67.] THURSDAY, MAY 17, 1711. Saltare elegantius quam necesse est proba.-SALlust. Too fine a dancer for a virtuous woman.
* Erudition seems to be here used in an uncommon sense, for cultivation or instruction.
"I am a man in years, and by an honest industry in the world have acquired enough to give my children a liberal education, though I was an utter stranger to it myself. My eldest daughter, a girl of sixteen, has for some time been under the tuition of Monsieur Rigadoon, a dancing-master in the city; and I was prevailed upon by her and her mother to go last night to one of his balls. I must own to you, Sir, that having never been to such a place before, I was very much pleased and surprised with that part of his entertainment which he called French Dancing. There were several young men and women whose limbs seemed to have no other motion but purely what the music gave them. After this part was over, they began a diversion which they call country dancing, and wherein there were also some things not disagreeable, and divers emblematical figures, composed, as I guess, by wise men, for the instruction of youth.
'Among the rest, I observed one which, I think, they call Hunt the Squirrel,' in which, while the woman flies, the man pursues her; but as soon as she turns, he runs away, and she is obliged to follow.
"The moral of this dance does, I think, very aptly recommend modesty and discretion to the female sex.
"But as the best institutions are liable to corruption, so, Sir, I must acquaint you, that very great abuses are crept into this entertainment. I was amazed to see my girl handed by and hand
LUCIAN, in one of his dialogues, introduces a philosopher chiding his friend for his being a lover of dancing and a frequenter of balls. The other undertakes the defense of his favorite diver-ing young fellows with so much familiarity; and sion, which, he says, was first invented by the I could not have thought it had been in the child. goddess Rhea, and preserved the life of Jupiter They very often made use of a most impudent and himself from the cruelty of his father Saturn. He lascivious step called 'Setting,' which I know not proceeds to show, that it had been approved by how to describe to you, but by telling you that it the greatest men in all ages; that Homer calls is the very reverse of Back to Back." At last an Merion a fine dancer; and says, that the graceful impudent young dog bid the fiddlers play a dance called 'Moll Pately,' and after having made two or three capers, ran to his partner, locked his arms in hers, and whisked her round cleverly above