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I never met with a consideration that is more finely spun, and what has better pleased me, than one in Epictetus,' which places an enemy in a new light, and gives us a view of him altogether different from that in which we are used to regard him. The sense of it is as follows: 'Does a man reproach thee for being proud or ill-natured, envious or conceited, ignorant or detracting? consider with thyself whether his reproaches are true; if they are not, consider that thou art not the person whom he reproaches, but that he reviles an imaginary being, and perhaps loves what thou really art, though he hates what thou appearest to be. If his reproaches are true, if thou art the envious illnatured man he takes thee for, give thyself another turn, become mild, affable and obliging, and his reproaches of thee naturally cease his reproaches may indeed continue, but thou art no longer the person whom he reproaches.'
I often apply this rule to myself; and when I hear of a satirical speech or writing that is aimed at me, I examine my own heart, whether I deserve it or not. If I bring in a verdict against myself, I endeavour to rectify my conduct for the future in those particulars which have drawn the censure upon me ; but if the whole invective be grounded upon a falsehood, I trouble myself no further about it, and look upon my name at the head of it to signify no more than one of those fictitious names made use of by an author to introduce an imaginary character. Why should a man be sensible of the sting of a reproach, who is a stranger to the guilt that is implied in it? or subject himself to the penalty, when he knows he has never committed the crime? This is a piece of fortitude, which every one owes to his own innocence, and without which it is impossible for a man of any merit or figure to live at peace with himself in a country that abounds with wit and liberty.
Epict. Ench. cap. 48 and 64, ed. Birk, 1670, 8 vo.--C
The famous Monsieur Balzac, in a letter to the chancellor of France, who had prevented the publication of a book against him, has the following words, which are a lively picture of the greatness of mind so visible in the works of that author. If it was a new thing, it may be I should not be displeased with the suppression of the first libel that should abuse me; but since there are enough of them to make a small library, I am secretly pleased to see the number increased, and take delight in raising a heap of stones that envy has cast at me without doing me any harm.'
The author here alludes to those monuments of the eastern nations, which were mountains of stones raised upon the dead body by travellers, that used to cast every one his stone upon it as they passed by. It is certain that no monument is so glorious as one which is thus raised by the hands of envy. For my part, I admire an author for such a temper of mind as enables him to bear an undeserved reproach without resentment, more than for all the wit of any the finest satirical reply.
Thus far I thought necessary to explain myself in relation to those who have animadverted on this paper, and to shew the reasons why I have not thought fit to return them any formal answer. I must further add, that the work would have been of very little use to the public, had it been filled with personal reflections and debates; for which reason I have never once turned out of my way to observe those little cavils which have been made against it by envy or ignorance. The common fry of scribblers, who have no other way of being taken notice of but by attacking what has gained some reputation in the world, would have furnished me with business enough, had they found me disposed to enter the lists with them.
1 There are abundant monuments of the same kind in North Fritain, where they are called cairns.----C.
I shall conclude with the fable of Boccalini s traveller, who was so pestered with the noise of grasshoppers in his ears, that he alighted from his horse in great wrath to kill them all. This, says the author, was troubling himself to no manner of purpose : had he pursued his journey without taking notice of them, the troublesome insects would have died of themselves in a very few weeks, and he would have suffered nothing from them. L.
No. 361. THURSDAY, APRIL 24.
Tartaream intendit vocem, qua protinus omnis
VIRG. Æn. vii. 514.
The blast Tartarean spreads its notes around;
I HAVE lately received the following letter from a country gentleman.
"The night before I left London I went to see a play, called, The Humorous Lieutenant.' Upon the rising of the curtain I was very much surprised with the great concert of cat-calls which was exhibited that evening, and began to think with myself that I had made a mistake, and gone to a music-meeting, instead of the play-house. It appeared, indeed, a little odd to me, to see so many persons of quality of both sexes assembled together at a kind of caterwauling; for I cannot look upon that performance to have been any thing better, whatever the musicians themselves might think of it. As I had no acquaintance in the house to ask questions of, and was forced to go out of town early the
A tragi-comedy by Beaumont and Fletcher.-G.
next morning, I could not learn the secret of this matter. What I would therefore desire of you, is, to give some account of this strange instrument, which I found the company called a cat-call; and particularly to let me know whether it be a piece of music lately come from Italy. For my own part, to be free with you, I would rather hear an English fiddle; though I durst not shew my dislike whilst I was in the play-house, it being my chance to sit the very next man to one of the performers.
"I am, SIR,
"Your most affectionate friend and servant, "JOHN SHALLOWw, Esq."
In compliance with 'Squire Shallow's request, I design this paper as a dissertation upon the cat-call. In order to make myself a master of the subject, I purchased one the beginning of last week, though not without great difficulty, being informed at two or three toy-shops that the players had lately bought them all up. I have since consulted many learned antiquaries in relation to its original, and find them very much divided among themselves upon that particular. A Fellow of the Royal Society, who is my good friend, and a great proficient in the mathematical part of music, concludes from the simplicity of its make, and the uniformity of its sound, that the cat-call is older than any of the inventions of Jubal. He observes very well, that musical instruments took their first rise from the notes of birds, and other melodious animals; and what, says he, was more natural than for the first ages of mankind to imitate the voice of a cat that lived under the same roof with them? he added, that the cat had contributed more to harmony than any other animal; as we are not only beholden to her for this wind-instrument, but for our string-music in general.
Another virtuoso of my acquaintance will not allow the cat
call to be older tan Thespis, and is apt to think it appeared in the world soon after the ancient comedy; for which reason it has still a place in our dramatic entertainments: nor must I here omit what a very curious gentleman, who is lately returned from his travels, has more than once assured me, namely, that there was lately dug up at Rome the statue of a Momus, who holds an instrument in his right-hand very much resembling our modern cat-call.
There are others who ascribe this invention to Orpheus, and ook upon the cat-call to be one of those instruments which that famous musician made use of to draw the beasts about him. It is certain, that the roasting of a cat does not call together a greater audience of that species, than this instrument, if dexterously played upon in proper time and place.
But notwithstanding these various and learned conjectures, I cannot forbear thinking that the cat-call is originally a piece of English music. Its resemblance to the voice of some of our British songsters, as well as the use of it, which is peculiar to our nation, confirms me in this opinion. It has at least received great improvements among us, whether we consider the instrument itself, or those several quavers and graces which are thrown into the playing of it. Every one might be sensible of this, who heard that remarkable over-grown cat-call which was placed in the centre of the pit, and presided over all the rest at the celebrated performance lately exhibited in Drury-lane.
Having said thus much concerning the original of the cat-call, we are in the next place to consider the use of it. The cat-call exerts itself to most advantage in the British theatre: it very much improves the sound of nonsense, and often goes along with the voice of the actor who pronounces it, as the violin or harpsicord accompanies the Italian recitativo.
It has often supplied the place of the ancient chorus, in the