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very desirous to learn the thoughts of our most eminent politicians on that occasion.
That I might begin as near the fountain head as possible, I first of all called in at St. James's, where I found the whole outward room in a buzz of politics. The speculations were but very indifferent towards the door, but grew finer as you advanced to the
upper end of the room, and were so very much improved by a knot of theorists, who sat in the inner room, within the steams of the coffee-pot, that I there heard the whole Spanish monarchy disposed of, and all the line of Bourbon provided for, in less than a quarter of an hour.
I afterwards called in at Giles's, where I saw a board of French gentlemen sitting upon the life and death of their Grand Monarque. Those among them who had espoused the Whig interest, very positively affirmed, that he departed this life about a week since, and therefore proceeded without any further delay to the release of their friends on the gallies, and to their own reestablishment; but finding they could not agree among themselves, I proceeded on my intended progress. Upon my arrival at Jenny Man's, I saw an alert young
fellow that cocked his hat upon a friend of his who entered just at the same time with myself, and accosted him after the following man.
"Well Jack, the old prig is dead at last. Sharp's the word. Now or never boy. Up to the walls of Paris directly.' With several other deep reflections of the same nature.
I met with very little variation in the politics between Charing-Cross and Covent-Garden. And upon my going into Will's, I found their discourse was gone off from the death of the French king to that of Monsieur Boileau, Racine, Corneille, and several other poets, whom they regretted on this occasion, as persons who would have obliged the world with very noble elegies on the death of so great a prince, and so eminent a patron of learning.
At a coffee-house near the Temple, I found a couple of young gentlemen engaged very smartly in a dispute on the succession to the Spanish monarchy. One of them seemed to have been retained as advocate for the Duke of Anjou, the other for his Imperial Majesty. They were both for regulating the title to that kingdom by the statute laws of England; but finding them going out of my depth, I passed forward to Paul's Church-Yard, where I listened with great attention to a learned man, who gave the company an account of the deplorable state of France during the minority of the deceased king.
I then turned on my right hand into Fish-Street, where the chief politician of that quarter, upon hearing the news, (after having taken a pipe of tobacco, and ruminating for some time) 'If, (says he,) the king of France is certainly dead, we shall have plenty of mackerel this season; our fishery will not be disturbed by privateers, as it has been for these ten years past.' He afterwards considered how the death of this great man would affect our pilchards, and by several other remarks infused a general joy into his whole audience.
I afterwards entered a bye coffee-house that stood at the upper end of a narrow lane, where I met with a Nonjuror, engaged very warmly with a Laceman who was the great support of a neighbouring conventicle. The matter in debate was, whether the late French king was most like Augustus Cæsar or Nero. The controversy was carried on with great heat on both sides, and as each of them looked upon me very frequently during the course of their debate, I was under some apprehension that they would appeal to me, and therefore laid down my penny at the bar, and made the best of my way to Cheapside.
I here gazed upon the signs for some time before I found one to my purpose. The first object I met in the coffee-room was a person who expressed a great grief for the death of the French king; but upon his explaining himself, I found his sorrow did not arise from the loss of the monarch, but for his having sold out of the bank about three days before he heard the news of it: upon which a haberdasher, who was the oracle of the coffee-house, and had his circle of admirers about him, called several to witness that he had declared his opinion above a week before, that the French king was certainly dead; to which he added, that considering the late advices we had received from France, it was impossible that it could be otherwise. As he was laying these together, and dictating to his hearers with great authority, there came in a gentleman from Garraway's, who told us that there were several letters from France just come in, with advice that the king was in good bealth, and was gone out a hunting the very morning the post came away : upon which the haberdasher stole off his hat that hung upon a wooden peg by him, and retired to his shop with great confusion. This intelligence put a stop to my travels, which I had prosecuted with much satisfaction; not being a little pleased to hear so many different opinions upon so great an event, and to observe how naturally upon such a piece of news every one is apt to consider it with a regard to his own particular interest and advantage
No. 405. SATURDAY, JUNE 14.
Οι δε πανημέριοι μολπη θεόν ιλάσκοντο, ,
Hom. II. 1. 472.
I am very sorry to find, by the opera-bills for this day, that we are likely to lose the greatest performer in dramatic music that is now living, or that perhaps ever appeared upon a stage. I need not acquaint my reader that am I speaking of Signior Nicolini.' The town is highly obliged to that excellent artist, for having shewn us the Italian music in its perfection, as well as for that generous approbation he lately gave to an opera of our own country, in which the composer endeavoured to do justice to the beauty of the words, by following that noble example, which has been set him by the greatest foreign masters in that art.
I could heartily wish there was the same application and endeavours to cultivate and improve our church-music, as have been lately bestowed on that of the stage. Our composers have one very great incitement to it: they are sure to meet with excellent words, and, at the same time, a wonderful variety of them. There is no passion that is not finely expressed in those parts of the inspired writings, which are proper for divine songs and anthems.
There is a certain coldness and indifference in the phrases of our European languages, when they are compared with the oriental forms of speech; and it happens very luckily, that the Hebrew
idioms run into the English tongue with a particular grace and beauty. Our language has received innumerable elegancies and improvements, from that infusion of Hebraisms, which are derived to it out of the poetical passages in holy writ. They give a force and energy to our expressions, warm and animate our language, and convey our thoughts in more ardent and intense phrases, than any that are to be met with in our own tongue. There is something so pathetic in this kind of diction, that it often sets the mind in a flame, and makes our hearts burn within
How cold and dead does a prayer appear, that is composed in the most elegant and polite forms of speech, which are natural to our tongue, when it is not heightened by that solemnity of phrase, which may be drawn from the sacred writings. It has been said by some of the ancients, that if the gods were to talk with men, they would certainly speak in Plato's style; but I think we may say, with justice, that when mortals converse with their Creator, they cannot do it in so proper a style as in that of the holy Scriptures.
If any one would judge of the beauties of poetry that are to be met with in the divine writings, and examine how kindly the Hebrew manners of speech mix and incorporate with the English language; after having perused the book of Psalms, let him read a literal translation of Horace or Pindar. He will find in these two last such an absurdity and confusion of style, with such a comparative poverty of imagination, as will make him very sensible of what I have been here advancing.
Since we have therefore such a treasury of words, so beautiful in themselves, and so proper for the airs of music, I cannot but wonder that persons of distinction should give so little attention and encouragement to that kind of music, which would have its foundation in reason, and which would improve our virtue in proportion as it raised our delight. The passions that are ex