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are several ingenious persons who intend to shew their talents on so happy an occasion, and being willing, as much as in me lies, to prevent that effusion of nonsense which we have good cause to apprehend; I do hereby strictly require every person, who shall write on this subject, to remember that he is a Christian, and not to sacrifice his catechism to his poetry. In order to it, I do expect of him, in the first place, to make his own poem, without depending upon Phæbus for any part of it, or calling out for aid upon any one of the Muses by name. I do likewise positively forbid the sending of Mercury with any particular message or dispatch relating to the peace, and shall by no means suffer Minerva to take upon her the shape of any plenipotentiary concerned in this great work. I'do further declare, that I shall not allow the Destinies to have had an hand in the deaths of the several thousands who have been slain in the late war, being of opinion, that all such deaths may be very well accounted for by the Christian system of powder and ball
. I do, therefore, strictly forbid the Fates to cut the thread of man's life upon any pretence whatsoever, unless it be for the sake of the rhyme. And whereas I have good reason to fear, that Neptune will have a great deal of business on his hands, in several which we may now suppose are upon the anvil, I do also prohibit his appearance, unless it be done in metaphor, simile, or any very short allusion; and that even here he be not permitted to enter, but with great caution and circumspection. I desire that the same rule may be extended to his whole fraternity of heathen gods, it being my design to condemn every poem to the flames in which Jupiter thunders, or exercises any other act of authority which does not belong to him: in short, I expect that no Pagan agent shall be introduced, or any fact related which a man cannot give credit to with a good conscience. Provided always, that nothing
herein contained shall extend, or be construed to extend, to several of the female poets in this nation, who shall still be left in full possession of their gods and goddesses, in the same manner as if this
paper had never been written.
Singula quceque locum teneant sortita decenter.
Pon the hearing of several late disputes concerning rank and precedence, I could not forbear amusing myself with some observations which I have made upon the learned world as to this great particular. By the learned world I here mean at large, all those who are any way concerned in works of literature, whether in the writing, printing, or repeating part. To begin with the writers; I have observed that the author of a folio, in all companies and conversations, sets himself above the author of a quarto; the author of a quarto above the author of an octado; and so on, by a gradual descent and subordination, to an author in twenty-fours. This distinction is so well observed, that in an assembly of the learned, I have seen a folio writer place himself in an elbow-chair, when the author of a duodecimo has, out of a just deference to his superior quality, seated himself upon a squab. In a word, authors are usually ranged in company after the same manner as their works are upon a shelf.
The most minute pocket-author hath beneath him the writers of all pamphlets, or works that are only stitched. As for the pamphleteer, he takes place of none but of the authors of single sheets, and of that fraternity who publish their labours on certain days, or on every day of the week. I do not find that the precedency among the individuals in this latter class of writers is yet settled.
For my own part, I have had so strict a regard to the ceremonial which prevails in the learned world, that I never presumed to take place of a pham: phleteer till my daily papers were gathered into those two first volumes which have already appeared. After which I naturally jumped over the heads, not only of all pamphleteers, but of every octavo writer in Great Britain, that had written but one book. I am also informed by my bookseller, that six octavos have at all times been looked upon as an equivalent to a folio, which I take notice of the rather, because I would not have the learned world surprised, if, after the publication of half a dozen volumes, I take my place accordingly. When my scattered forces are thus rallied, and reduced into regular bodies, I flatter myself that I shall make no despicable figure at the head of them.
Whether these rules, which have been received time out of mind in the commonwealth of letters, were not originally established with an eye to our paper manufacture, I shall leave to the discussion of others, and shall only remark further in this place, that all printers and booksellers take the wall of one another, according to the abovementioned merits of the authors to whom they respectively belong
I come now to that point of precedency which is settled among the three learned professions by the wisdom of our laws. I need not here take notice of the rank which is allotted to every doctor in each of these professions, who are all of them, though not so high as knights, yet a degree above squires : this last order of men being the illiterate body of the nation, are consequently thrown together into a class below the three learned professions. I mention this for the sake of several rural squires, whose reading does not rise so high as to the present state of England, and who are often apt to usurp that precedency which by the laws of their country is not due to them. Their want of learning, which has planted them in this station, may in some measure extenuate their misdemeanor; and our professors ought to pardon them when they offend in this particular, considering that they are in a state of ignorance, or, as we usually say, do not know their right hand from their left.
There is another tribe of persons who are retainers to the learned world, and who regulate themselves, upon all occasions, by several laws peculiar to their body. I mean the players or actors of both sexes. Among these it is a standing and uncontroverted principle, that a tragedian always takes place of a comedian; and it is very well known, the merry drolls who make us laugh, are always placed at the lower end of the table, and in every entertainment give way to the dignity of the buskin. It is a stage maxim, “Once a king, and always a king." for this reason it would be thought very absurd in Mr. Bullock, notwithstanding the height and gracefulness of his person, to sit at the right hand of an hero, though he were but five feet high. The same distinction is observed among the ladies of the theatre. Queens and heroines preserve their rank in private conversation; while those who are waiting: women and maids of honour upon the stage, keep their distance also behind the scenes.
I shall only add, that by a parity of reason, all writers of tragedy. look upon it as their due to be seated, served, or saluted, before comic writers; those who deal in tragi-comedy, usually taking their seats between the authors of either side. There has been a long dispute for precedency between the tragic and heroic poets. Aristotle would have the latter yield the pas to the former; but Mr. Dryden, and many others, would never submit to this decision. Burlesque writers pay the same deference to the he- .
roic, as comic writers to their serious brothers in the drama.
By this short table of laws, order is kept up, and distinction preserved, in the whole republic of letters.
No. 530. FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 7.
Sic risum Veneri; cui placet impares
It is very usual for those who have been severe upon marriage, in some part or other of their lives to enter into the fraternity which they have ridiculed, and to see their railery return upon their own heads. I scarce ever knew a woman-hater that did not, sooner or later, pay for it. Marriage, which is a blessing to another man, falls upon such an one as a judgment. Mr. Congreve's Old Bachelor is set forth to us, with much wit and humour, as an example of this kind. In short, those who have inost distinguished themselves by railing at the sex in general
, very often make an honourable amends, by choosing one of the most worthless persons of it for a companion and yoke-fellow. Hymen takes his revenge in kind on those who turn his mysteries into ridicule.
My friend Will. Honeycomb, who was so unmercifully witty upon the women in a couple of letters which I lately communicated to the public, has given the ladies ample satisfaction by marrying a farmer's daughter; a piece of news which came to our club by the last post. The Templer is very positive that he has married a dairy-maid: but Will
. in his letter to me on this occasion, sets the best face upon the matter that he can, and gives a more tolerable account of his spouse. I must confess I