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impossible for a club or merry-meeting to subsist without them; I mean those honest gentlemen that are always exposed to the wit and raillery of their well-wishers and companions; that are pelted by men, women, and children, friends, and foes; and, in a word, stand as Butts in conversation, for every one to shoot at that pleases. I know several of these Butts who are men of wit and sense, though by some odd turn of humour, some unlucky cast in their person or behaviour, they have always the misfortune to make the company merry. The truth of it is, a man is not qualified for a Butt, who has not a good deal of wit and vivacity, even in the ridiculous side of his character. A stupid Butt is only fit for the conversation of ordinary people : men of wit require one that will give them play, and bestir himself in the absurd part of his behaviour. A Butt with these accomplishments frequently gets the laugh on his side, and turns the ridicule upon him that attacks him. Sir John Falstaff was an hero of this species, and gives a good description of himself in his capacity of a Butt, after the following manner: “Men of all sorts (says that merry knight) take a pride to gird at me. The brain of men is not able to invent anything that tends to laughter more than I invent, or is invented on
I am not only witty in myself, but the cause that wit is in other men.”
No. 50. FRIDAY, APRIL 27.
Nunquam aliud natura, aliud sapientia, dixit. Juv. WHEN the four Indian kings were in this country about a twelvemonth ago, I often mixed with the rabble, and followed them a whole day together, being wonderfully struck with the sight of everything that is new or uncommon. I have, since their departure, employed a friend to make many inquiries of their landlord, the upholsterer, relating to their manners and conversation, as also concerning the remarks which they made in this country : for, next to the forming a right notion of such strangers, I should be desirous of learning what ideas they have conceived of us.
Swift tells Mr. Johnson (Letter 21, April 14, 1711) that the hint on which this speculation is formed, came from him; and that he intended to have written a book upon it. Mr. Addison judged much better to work up his materials in a single paper. See note on No. 470 of the Spectator.
The upholsterer, finding my friend very inquisitive about these his lodgers, brought him some time since a little bundle of papers, which he assured him were written by King Sa Ga Yean Qua Rash Tow, and, as he supposes, left behind by some mistake. These papers are now translated, and contain abundance of very odd observations, which I find this little fraternity of kings made during their stay in the Isle of Great Britian. I shall present my reader with a short specimen of them in this paper, and may perhaps communicate more to him hereafter. In the article of London are the following words, which, without doubt, are meant of the Church of St. Paul.
“On the most rising part of the town there stands a huge house, big enough to contain the whole nation of which I am king. Our good brother E Tow O Koam, king of the rivers, is of opinion it was made by the hands of that great god to whom it is consecrated. The kings of Granajah, and of the six nations, believe that it was created with the earth, and produced on the same day with the sun and moon. But, for my own part, by the best information that I could get of this matter, I am apt to think, that this prodigious pile was fashioned into the shape it now bears by several tools and instruments, of which they have a wonderful variety in this country. It was probably at first an huge misshapen rock that grew upon the top of the hill, which the natives of the country (after having cut it into a kind of regular figure) bored and hollowed with incredible pains and industry, till they had wrought in it all those beautiful vaults and caverns into which it is divided at this day. As soon as this rock was thus curiously scooped to their liking, a prodigious number of hands must have bcen employed in chipping the outside of it, which is now as smooth as the surface of a pebble; and is in several places hewn out into pillars, that stand like the trunks of so many trees bound about the top with garlands of leaves. It is probable that when this great work was begun, which must have been
years ago, there was some religion among this people, for they give it the name of a temple, and have a tradition that it was designed for men to pay their devotion in. And, indeed, there are several reasons which make us think, that the natives of this country had formerly among them some sort of worship; for they set apart every seventh day as sacred: but upon my going into one of these holy houses on that day, I could not observe any circumstance of devotion in their behaviour : there was, indeed, a man in black who was mounted above the rest, and seemed to utter something with a great deal of vehemence; but as for those underneath him, instead of paying their worship to the deity of the place, they were most of them bowing and curtseying to one another, and a considerable number of them fast asleep. The
queen of the country appointed two men to attend us, that had enough of our language to make themselves understood in some few particulars. But we soon perceived these two were great enemies to one another, and did not always agree in the same story. We could make a shift to gather out of one of them, that this island was very much infested with a monstrous kind of animals, in the shape of men, called Whigs; and he often told us, that he hoped we should meet with none of them in our way, for that, if we did, they would be apt to knock us down for being kings.
“Our other interpreter used to talk very much of a kind of animal called a Tory, that was as great a monster as the Whig, and would treat us as ill for being foreigners. These two creatures, it seems, are born with a secret antipathy to one another, and engage when they meet as naturally as the elephant and the rhinoceros. But as we saw none of either of these species, we are apt to think that our guides deceived us with misrepresentations and fictions, and amused us with an account of such monsters as are not really in their country.
“These particulars we made a shift to pick out from the discourse of our interpreters; which we put together as well as we could, being able to understand but here and there a word of what they said, and aftertards making up
the meaning of it among ourselves. The men of the country are very cunning and ingenious in handicraft works; but withal so very idle, that we often saw young, lusty, raw-boned fellows carried
and down the streets in little covered rooms by a couple of porters, who are hired for that service. Their dress is likewise very barbarous, for they almost strangle themselves about the neck, and bind their bodies with many ligatures, that we are apt to think are the occasion of several distempers among them, which our country is entirely free from. Instead of those beautiful feathers with which we adorn our heads, they often buy up a monstrous bush of hair, which
covers their heads, and falls down in a large fleece below the middle of their backs; with which they walk up and down the streets, and are as proud of it as if it was of their own growth.
“We were invited to one of their public diversions, where we hoped to have seen the great men of their country running down a stag, or pitching a bar, that we might have discovered who were the persons of the greatest abilities among them ; but instead of that, they conveyed us into an huge room lighted up with abundance of candles, where this lazy people sat still above three hours to see several feats of ingenuity performed by others, who it seems were paid for it.
“As for the women of the country, not being able to talk with them, we could only make our remarks upon
them at a distance. They let the hair of their heads grow to a great length; but as the men make a great show with heads of hair that are none of their own, the women, who they say have
very fine heads of hair, tie it up in a knot, and cover it from being seen. The women look like angels, and would be more beautiful than the sun, were it not for little black spots that are apt to break out in their faces, and sometimes rise in very odd figures. I have observed that those little blemishes wear off very soon; but when they disappear in one part of the face, they are very apt to break out in another, insomuch that I have seen a spot upon the forehead in the afternoon, which was upon the chin in the morning.'
The author then proceeds to show the absurdity of breeches and petticoats, with many other curious observations, which I shall reserve for another occasion. I cannot, however, conclude this paper without taking notice, that amidst these wild remarks, there now and then appears something very reasonable. I cannot likewise forbear observing, that we are all guilty in some measure of the same narrow way of thinking, which we meet with in this abstract of the Indian Journal, when we fancy the customs, dresses, and manners of other countries are ridiculous and extravagant, if they do not resemble those of our own.
No. 55. THURSDAY, MAY 3.
-Intus, et in jecore ægro,
Pers. Most of the trades, professions, and ways of living among mankind, take their original either from the love of pleasure or the fear of want. The former, when it becomes too violent, degenerates into luxury, and the latter into avarice. As these two principles of action draw different ways, Persius has given us a very humorous account of a young fellow who was roused out of his bed, in order to be sent upon a long voyage by Avarice, and afterwards over-persuaded and kept at home by Luxury. I shall set down at length the pleadings of these two imaginary persons, as they are in the original, with Mr. Dryden's translation of them.
Mane, piger, stertis : surge, inquit Avaritia ; eja