Page images

the husband and wife were angry at one another. We had no sooner sat down, but says the gentleman of the house, in order to raise discourse, “I thought Margarita" sung extremely well last night.” Upon this, says the lady, looking as pale as ashes, “I suppose she had cherry-coloured ribbands on.” “No,” answered the husband, with a flush in his face, “but she had laced shoes.” I look upon it, that a stander-by on such occasions has as much reason to be out of countenance as either of the combatants. To turn off my confusion, and seem regardless of what had passed, I desired the servant who attended, to give me the vinegar, which unluckily created a new dialogue of hints; for, as far I could gather by the subsequent discourse, they had dissented the day be. fore about the preference of elder to wine vinegar. In the midst of their discourse, there appeared a dish of chicken and asparagus, when the husband secmed disposed to lay aside all disputes; and, looking upon her with a great deal of good nature, said, “Pray, my dear, will you help my friend to a wing of the fowl that lies next you, for I think it looks extremely well.” The lady, instead of answering him, addressing herself to me, “Pray, sir,” said she, “do you in Surry reckon the white or the black. legged fowls the best?” I found the husband changed colour at the question; and, before I could answer, asked me, “Whether we did not call hops broom in our country " I quickly found they did not ask questions so much out of curiosity as anger: for which reason I thought fit to keep my opinion to myself, and, as an honest man ought when he sees two friends in warmth with each other, I took the first opportunity I could to leave them by themselves. ‘You see, sir, I have laid before you only small incidents, which are seemingly frivolous: but take it from a man very well experienced in this state, they are principally evils of this nature which make marriages unhappy. At the same time, that I may do justice to this excellent institution, I must own to you, there are unspeakable pleasures which aro as little regarded in the computation of the advantages of Inarriage, as the others are in the usual survey that is made of its misfortunes. ‘Lovemore and his wife live together in the happy possession of each other's hearts, and, by that means, have no indifferent moments, but

their whole life is one continued scene of de

light. Their passion for each other gommunicates a certain satisfaction, like that which they themselves are in, to all that approach them. When she enters the place where he is, you see a pleasure which he cannot conceal, nor he, or any one else, describe. In so consummate an affection, the very presence of the person beloved has the effect of the most agreeable conversation. Whether they have matter to talk of or not, they enjoy the pleasures of society, and, at the same time, the freedom of solitude. Their


* Francesca Margarita de l'Epine, a native of Tuscany. This celebrated singer performed in many of the earlier Italian operas represented in England. She and Mrs. Tosts were rivais for the public favour, and it souts tiley divided pretty equally the applause of the low i.

ordinary life is to be preferred to the happiest moments of other lovers. In a word, they have each of them great merit, live in the estcom of all who know them, and seem but to comply with the opinions of their friends, in the just value they have for each other.’

No. 151.] Tuesday, March 28, 1710.

— Ni vis boni

In ipsa inesset forma, hæc forman extinguerunt. te

These things would extinguish beauty, if there were not an innate pleasure-giving energy in beauty itself.

From my own Apartment, March 27.

WHEN artists would expose their diamonds to an advantage, they usually set them to show in little cases of black velvet. By this means the jewels appear in their true and genuine lustre, while there is no colour that can infect their brightness, or give a false cast to the water. When I was at the opera the other night, the assembly of ladies in mourning made me consider them in the same kind of view. A dress wherein there is so little variety shows the face in all its natural charms, and makes one differ from another only as it is more or less beautiful. Painters are ever careful of offending against a rule which is so essential in all just representations. The chief figure must have the strongest point of light, and not be injured by any gay colourings that may draw away the attention to any less considerable part of the picture. The present fashion obliges every body to be dressed with propriety, and makes the ladies' faces the principal objects of sight. Every beautiful person shines out in all the excellence with which nature has adornca her; gaudy ribbands and glaring colours being now out of use, the sex has no opportunity given them to disfigure themselves, which they seldom fail to do whenever it lies in thcir power. When a woman comes to her glass, she does not employ her time in making herself look more advantageously than what she really is; but endeavours to be as much another creature as she possibly can. Whether this happens because they stay so long, and attend their work so diligently, that they forget the faces and persons which they first sat down with, or, whatever it is, they seldom rise from the toilet the same women they appeared when they began to dress. What jewel can the charining Cleora place in her ears that can please her beholders so much as her eyes? The cluster of diamonds upon the breast can add no beauty to the fair chest of ivory which supports it. It may indeed tempt a man to steal a woman, but never to love her. Let Thalestris change herself into a motely party-coloured animal: the pearl necklace, the slowered stomacher, the artificial nosegay, and shaded furh low, may be of use to attract the eye of the beholder, and turn, it from the imporfictions of her features and shape. But it ladies will take my word for it, (and as they dress to please men, they ought to consult our ouncy rather than their own m this particular.) I can


assure them, there is nothing touches our imagination so much as a beautiful woman in a plain dress. There might be more agreeable ornaments found in our own manufacture, than any that rise out of the looms of Persia. his, I know, is a very harsh doctrine to womankind, who are carried away with every thing that is showy, and with what delights the eye, more than any other species of living creatures whatsoever. Were the minds of the sex laid open, we should find the chief idea in one to be a tippet, in another a muff, in a third a fan, and in a fourth a fardingal. The memory of an old visiting lady is so filled with loves, silks, and ribbands, that I can look upon it as nothing else but a toy-shop. A matron of my acquaintance, complaining of her daughter's vanity, was observing, that she had all of a sudden held up her head higher than ordinary, and taken an air that showed a secret satisfaction in herself, mixed with a scorn of others. “I did not know," says my friend, ‘what to make of the carriage of this fantastical girl, until I was informed by her eldest sister, that she had a pair of striped garters on.’ This odd turn of mind often makes the sex unhappy, and disposes them to be struck with every thing that makes a show, however trisling and superficial." Many a lady has fetched a sigh at the toss of a wig, and been ruined by the tapping of a snuffbox. It is impossible to describe all the execution that was done by the shoulder-knot, while that fashion prevailed, or to reckon up all the virgins that have fallen a sacrifice to a pair of fringed gloves. A sincere heart has not made half so many conquests as an open waistcoat ; and I should be glad to see an able head make so good a figure in a woman's company as a pair of red heels. A Grecian hero, when he was asked whether he could play upon the lute, thought he had made a very good reply, when he answered, ‘No; but I can make a great city of a little one.' Notwithstanding his boasted wisdom, I appeal to the heart of any toast in town, whether she would not think the lutenist preferable to the statesman? I do not speak this out of any aversion that I have to the sex; on the contrary, I have always had a tenderness for them; but, I must confess, it troubles me very much, to see the generality of them place their affections on improper objects, and give up all the pleasures of life for gewgaws and trifles. Mrs. Margery Bickerstaff, my great aunt, had a thousand pounds to her portion, which our family was desirous of keeping among themselves, and therefore used all possible means to turn off her thoughts from marriage. The method they took was, in any time of danger, to throw a new gown or petticoat in her way. When she was about twenty-five years of age, she fell in love with a man of an agreeable temper and equal fortune, and would cer. tainly have married him, had not my grandfather, sir Jacob, dressed her up in a suit of flowered sattin; upon which she set so immoderate a value upon herself, that the lover was contemned and discarded. In the fortieth year of her age, she was again smitten; but very

luckily transferred her passion to a tippet, which was presented to her by another relation who was in the plot. This, with a white sarsenet hood, kept her safe in the family until fifty. About sixty, which generally produces a kind of latter spring in amorous constitutions, my aunt Margery had again a colt's tooth in her head; and would certainly have eloped from the mansion-house, had not her brother Simon, who was a wise man and a scholar, advised to dress her in cherry-coloured ribbands, which was the only expedient that could have been found out by the wit of man to preserve the thousand pounds in our family, part of which I enjoy at this time. This discourse puts me in mind of a humorist mentioned by Horace, called Eutrapelus, who, when he designed to do a man a mischies, made him a present of a gay suit; and brings to my memory another passage of the same author, when he describes the most ornamental dress that a woman can appear in, with two words, simpler munditiis, which I have quoted for the benefit of my female readers.

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

* A MAN who consincs his speculations to the time present, has but a very narrow province to employ his thoughts in. For this reason, persons of studious and contemplative natures often entertain themselves with the history of past ages, or raise schemes and conjectures upon futurity. For my own part, I love to range through that half of cternity which is still to come, rather than look on that which is already run out; because I know I have a real share and interest in the one, whereas all that was transacted in the other can be only matter of curiosity to me. Upon this account, I have been always very much delighted with inclitating on the soul's immortality, and in reading the several notions which the wisest of men, both ancient and modern, have entertained on that subject. What the opinions of the greatest philosophers have been, I have several times hinted at, and shall give an account of them from time to time as occasion requires. It may likewise be worth while to consider, what men of the most exalted genius and elevated imagination have thought of this matter. Among these, Homer stands up as a prodigy of mankind, that looks down upon the rest of human creatures as a species bencath him. Since he is the most ancient heathen author, we may guess from his relation, what were the common opinions in his time concerning the state of the soul after death.

[ocr errors]

Ulysscs, he tells us, made a voyage to the regions of the dead, in order to consult Tiresias how he should return to his own country, and recommend himself to the favour of the gods. The poet scarcely introduces a single person, who doth not suggest some useful precept to his reader, and designs his description of the dead for the amendment of the living. Ulysses, after having made a very plenteous sacrifice, sat him down by the pool of holy blood, which attracted a prodigious assembly of ghosts of all ages and conditions, that hovered about the hero, and feasted upon the streams of his oblation. The first he knew was the shade of Elpenor, who, to show the activity of a spirit above that of body, is represented as arrived there long before Ulysses, notwithstand. ing the winds and seas had contributed all their sorce to hasten his voyage thither. This Elpenor, to inspire the reader with a detestation of drunkenness, and at the same time with a religious care of doing proper honours to the dead, describes himself as having broken his neck in a debauch of wine; and begs Ulysses, that for the repose of his soul, he would build a monument over him, and perform funcral rites to his memory. Ulysses, with great sorrow of heart, promises to fulfil his request, and is inmediately diverted to an object much more moving than the former. The ghost of his own mother, Anticlea, whom he still thought living, appears to him among the multitudes of shades that surrounded him, and sits down at a small distance from him by the lake of blood, without speaking to him, or knowing who he was. Ulysses was exceedingly troubled at the sight, and could not forbear weeping as he looked upon her: but being all along set forth as a pattern of consummate wisdom, he makes his affection give way to prudence; and therefore, upon his seeing Tiresins, does not reveal himself to his mother, until ho had consulted that great prophet, who was the occasion of this his descent into the empire of the dead. Tiresins having cautioned him to keep himself and his companions free from the guilt of sacrilege, and to pay his devotions to all the gods, promises hin a safe return to his kingdom and family, and a happy old age in the enjoyment of them. The poet, having thus with great art kept the curiosity of his reader in suspense, represents his wise man, after the despatch of his business with Tiresias, as yielding himself up to the calls of natural affection, and Inaking himself known to his mother. Her eyes are no sooner opened, but she cries out in tears, “Oh my son s' and inquires into the occasions that brought him thither, and the fortune that attended him. Ulysses, on the other hand, desires to know what the sickness was that had sent her into those regions, and the condition in which she had left his father, his son, and more particularly his wife. She tells him, “they were all three inconsolable for his absence. As for myself,' says she, “that was the sickness of which I died. My impatience for your return, my anxiety for your welfare, and my fondness for my dear Ulysses, were the only distempors that preyed upon my life, and separated my

soul from my body.” Ulysses was melted with these expressions of tenderness, and thrice endeavoured to catch the apparition in his arms, that he might hold his mother to his bosom, and weep over hor. This gives the poct occasion to describe the notion the hcathens at that time had of an unbodied soul, in the excuse which the mother makes for seeming to withdraw herself from her son's embraces. ‘The soul,” says she, “is composed neither of bones, flesh, nor sincws; but leaves behind her all those encumbrances of mortality to be consumcd on the funeral pile. As soon as she, has thus cast her burden, she makes her escape, and flies away from it like a dream.” When this melancholy conversation is at an end, the poet draws up to view as charming a vision as could enter into man's imagination. He describes the next who appeared to Ulysses, to have been the shades of the finest women that had cver lived upon the earth, and who had either been the daughters of kings, the mistresses of gods, or mothers of heroes; such as Antiopo, Alcinema, Leda, Ariadne, Iphimedia, Eriphyle, and several others, of whom he gives a catalogue, with a short history of their ..adventures. The beautiful assembly of apparitions were all gathered together about the blood. “Each of them,” says Ulysses, as a gentle satire upon female vanity, “giving mo an account of her birth and family.’ This scene of extraordinary women, seems to have been designed by the poet as a lecture of inortality to the whole sex, and to put them in mind of what they must expect, notwithstanding the greatest perfections, and highest honours, they can arrive at. The circle of beauties at length disappeared, and was succeeded by the shades of several Grecian heroes, who had been cngaged with Ulysses in the siege of Troy. The first that approached was Agamemnon, the generalissimo of that great expedition, who, at the appearance of his old friend, west very bitterly, and, without saying any thing to him, endeavoured to grasp him by the hand. Ulysses, who was much moved at the sight, poured out a flood of tears, and asked him the occasion of his death, which Agamemnon related to him in all its tragical circumstances; how he was murdered at a banquet by the contrivance of his own wife, in confederacy with her adulterer: from whence he takcs occasion to reproach the whole sex, after a manner which would be inexcusable in a man who had not becn so great a sufferer by them. “My wife,’ says he, “has disgraced all the women that shall ever be born into the world, even those who hereafter shall be innocent. Take care how you grow too fond of your wife. Never tell her all you know. If you reveal some things to her, be sure you keep others concealed from her. You, indeed, have nothing to fear from your Penelope, she will not use you as my wife has treated me; however, take core how you trust a woman.' The poet, in this and other instances, according to the system of many heathen as well as Christian philosophors, hows how anger, revenge, and other habits which the soul had contracted in the body, - co

[ocr errors]

subsist, and grow in it under its state of separation. I am extremely pleased with the companions which the poet in the next description assigns to Achilles. ‘Achilles,’ says the hero, ‘came up to me with Patroclus and Antilochus.’ By which we may see that it was Homer's opinion, and probably that of the age he lived in, that the friendships which are made among the living, will likewise continue among the dead. Achilles inquires after the welfare of his son, and of his father, with a fierceness of the sane character that Homer has every where expresscd in the actions of his life. The passage relating to his son is so extremely beautiful, that I must not omit it. Ulysses, after having described him as wise in council, and active in war, and the foes whom he had slain in battle, adds an observation that he himself had made of his behaviour, whilst he lay in the wooden horse. ‘Most of the generals,’ says he, “that were with us, either wept or trembled; as for your son, I never saw him wipe a tear from his cheeks, or change his countenance. On the contrary, he would often lay his hand upon his sword, or grasp his spear, as impatient to cmploy them against the Trojans.’ He then informs his father of the great honour and rewards which he had purchased before Troy, and of his return from it without a wound. “The shade of Achilles,’ says the poet, was so pleased with the account he received of his son, that he inquired no further, but stalked away with more than ordinary majesty over the green meadow that lay before them.” This last circumstance, of a deceased father's rejoicing in the behaviour of his son, is very finely contrived by Homer, as an incentive to virtue, and made use of by none that I know besides himself. The description of Ajax, which follows, and his refusing to speak to Ulysses, who had won the armour of Achilles from him, and by that means occasioned his death, is admired by every one that reads it. When Ulysses relates the sullenness of his deportment, and considers the greatness of the hero, he expresses himself with generous and noble sentiments. “Oh that I had never gained a prize which cost the life of so brave a man as Ajax who, for the beauty of his person, and greatness of his actions, was inferior to none but the divine Achilles.' The same noble condescension, which never dwells but in truly great minds, and such as Homer would represent that of Ulysses to have been, discovers itself likewise in the speech which he made to the ghost of Ajax on that occasion. ‘Oh, Ajax o' says he, “will you keep your reRentments even after death 2 What destructions hath this fatal armour brought upon the Greeks,

by robbing them of you, who were their bul.

wark and defence? Achilles is not more bit. terly lamented among us than you. Impute not then your death to any one but Jupiter, who, out of his anger to the Greeks, took you away from among them: let me entreat you to ap. proach me; restrain the fierceness of your wrath, and the greatness of your soul, and hear what I have to say to you.' Ajax, without ma

king a reply, turned his back upon him, and retired into a crowd of ghosts. Ulysses, after all these visions, took a view of those impious wretches who lay in tortures for the crimes they had committed upon the earth, whom he describes under all the varieties of pain, as so many marks of divine vengeance, to deter others from following their example. He then tells us, that notwithstanding he had

a great curiosity to see the heroes that lived .

in the ages before him, the ghosts began to gather about him in such prodigious multitudes, and with such a confusion of voices, that his heart trembled as he saw himself amidst so great a scene of horrors. He adds, that he was afraid lest some hideous spectre should appear to him, that might terrify him to distraction ; and therefore withdrew in time.

I question not but my reader will be pleased with this description of a future state, represented by such a noble and fruitful imagination, that had nothing to direct it besides the light of nature, and the opinions of a dark and ignorant age.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

I Have heard of a very valuable picture, wherein all the painters of the age in which it was drawn, are represented sitting together in a circle, and joining in a consort of music. Each of them plays upon such a particular instrument as is the most suited to his character, and expresses that style and manner of painting which is peculiar to him. The famous cupola. painter of those times, to show the grandeur and boldness of his figures, hath a horn in his mouth, which he scems to wind with great strength and force. On the contrary, an emiment artist, who wrought up his pictures with the greatest accuracy, and gave them all those delicate touches which are apt to please the nicest eye, is represented as tuning a theorbo. The same kind of humour runs through the whole piece.

I have often, from this hint, imagined to my. self, that different talents in discourse might be shadowed out after the same manner by different kinds of music ; and that the several conversable parts of mankind in this great city, might be cast into proper characters and divisions, as they resemble several instruments that are in use among the masters of harmony. Of these therefore in their order; and first, of the Drum.

Your Drums are the blusterers in conversation, that, with a loud laugh, unnatural mirth, and a torrent of noise, domincer in public assemblics; overbear men of sense; stun their companions; and fill the place they are in with a rattling sound, that hath seldom any wit, humour, or good breeding in it. The Drum, notwithstanding, by this boisterous vivacity, is very

proper to impose upon the ignorant; and in conversation with ladies who are not of the finest taste, often passes for a man of mirth and wit, and for wonderful pleasant company. I need not observe, that the emptiness of the Drum very much contributes to its noise. The Lute is a character directly opposite to the Drum, that sounds very finely by itself, or in a very small consort. Its notes are exquisitely sweet, and very low, easily drowned in a multitude of instruments, and even lost among a few, unless you give a particular attention to it. A Lute is seldom heard in a company of more than five, whereas a Drum will show itsclf to advantage in an assembly of five hundred. The Lutenists, therefore, are men of a fine genius, uncommon reflection, great affability, and csteemed chiefly by persons of a good taste, who are the only proper judges of so delightful and soft a melody. The Trumpet is an instrument that has in it no compass of music, or variety of sound, but is notwithstanding very agreeable, so long as it keeps within its pitch. It has not above four or five notes, which are however very pleasing, and capable of exquisite turns and modulations. The gentlemen who fall under this denomination, are your men of the most fashionable education, and refined brecding, who have learned a certain smoothness of discourse, and sprightliness of air, from the polite company they have kept; but, at the same time, have shallow parts, weak judgments, and a short reach of understanding. A play-house, a drawing-room, a ball, a visiting-day, or a ring at Hyde-park, are the few notes they are masters of, which they touch upon in all conversations. The Trumpet, however, is a necessary instrument about a court, and a proper enlivener of a consort, though of no great harmony by itself. Violins are the lively, forward, importunate wits, that distinguish themselves by the flourishes of imagination, sharpness of repartce, glances of satire, and bear away the upper part in every consort. I cannot however but observe, that when a man is not disposed to hear music, there is not a more disagreeable sound in harmony than that of a Violin. There is another musical instrument, which is more frequent in this nation than any other; I mean your Bass-viol, which grumbles in the bottom of the consort, and with a surly masculine sound strengthens the harmony, and tempers the sweetness of the several instruments that play along with it. The Bass-viol is an instrument of a quite different nature to the Trumpet, and may signify men of rough sense and unpolished parts; who do not love to hear them. selves talk, but sometimes break out with an agreeable bluntness, unexpected wit, and surly pleasantries, to the no small diversion of their friends and companions. In short, I look upon every sensible true-born Briton, to be naturally a Bass-viol. - * As for your rural wits, who talk with great eloquence and alacrity of foxes, hounds, horses, quickset hedges, and six-bar-gates, double ditches, and broken necks, I am in doubt, whether I should give them a place in the conversable world. However, if they will content then

selves with being raised to the dignity of Hunting-horns, I shall desire for the future that they may be known by that name. I must not here omit the Bagpipe species, that will entertain you from morning to night with the repetition of a few notes, which are played over and over, with the perpetual humining of a drone running underneath them. These are your dull, heavy, tedious, story tellers, the load and burden of conversations, that set up for men of importance by knowing secret history, and giving an account of transactions, that, whether they cver passed in the world or not, doth not signify a halfpenny to its instruction, or its welfare. Some have observed, that the northern parts of this island are more particularly fruitful in Bagpipes. There are so very few persons who are masters in every kind of conversation, and can talk on all subjects, that I do not know whether we should make a distinct species of them. Nevertheless, that my scheme may not be defective, for the sake of those few who are endowed with such extraordinary talents, I shall allow them to be Harpsichords, a kind of music which cvery one knows is a consort by itself. As for your Passing-bells, who look upon mirth as criminal, and talk of nothing but what is melancholy in itself, and mortifying to human nature, I shall not mention them. I shall likewise pass over in silence all the rabble of mankind, that crowd our streets, coffeehouses, feasts, and public tables. I cannot call their discourse conversation, but rather something that is practised in imitation of it. For which reason, if I would describe them by any musical instrument, it should be by those modern inventions of the bladder and string, tongs and key, marrow-bone and clever. My reader will doubtless observe, that I have only touched here upon male instruments, having reserved my female consort to another occasion. If he has a mind to know where these several characters are to be met with, I could direct him to a whole club of Drums; not to mention another of Bagpipes, which I havo before given some account of in my description of our nightly meetings in Sheer-lane. The Lutes may often be met with in couples upon the banks of a crystal stream, or in the retreats of shady woods, and flowery meadows; which, for different reasons, are likewise the great resort of your Hunting-horns. Bass-viols aro frequently to be found over a glass of stale-beer, and a pipe of tobacco; whereas those who set up for Violins, seldom fail to make their appearance at Will's once every evening. You may meet with a Trumpet any where on the other side of Charing-cross. That we may draw something for our advantage in life out of the foregoing discourse, I must entreat my reader to make a narrow search into his life and conversation, and, upon his leaving any company, to examine himself seriously whether he has behaved himself in it like a Drum or a Trumpet, a Violin or a Bass-viol; and accordingly endeavour to mend his music for the future. For my own part, I must confess, I was a Drum for many years; nay, and a very noisy one, until, having Polished

« PreviousContinue »