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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 a hero, though he were but five foot 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
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 heroic, 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.
N° 530. FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 1712.
visum Veneri; cui placet impares
Sævo mittere cum joco.-HoR. 1 Od. xxxiii. 10.
When cruelly jocose,
She ties the fatal noose,
And binds unequals to the brazen yokes.-CREECH. 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 raillery 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 a 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 most 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 yokefellow. 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 templar 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 suspected something more than ordinary, when upon opening the letter I found that Will was fallen off from his former gaiety, having changed Dear Spec,' which was his usual salute at the beginning of the letter, into My worthy Friend,' and subscribed himself in the latter end at full length William Honeycomb. In short, the gay, the loud, the vain Will Honeycomb, who had made love to every great fortune that has appeared in town for about thirty years together, and boasted of favours from ladies whom he had never seen, is at length wedded to a plain country girl.
His letter gives us the picture of a converted rake. The sober character of the husband is dashed with the man of the town, and enlivened with those little cant phrases, which have made my friend Will often thought very pretty company.
But let us hear what he says for himself.
• MY WORTHY FRIEND, "I question not but you, and the rest of my ac, quaintance, wonder that I, who have lived in the smoke and gallantries of the town for thirty years together, should all on a sudden grow fond of a country life. Had not my dog of a steward ran away as he did without making up his accounts, I had still been immersed in sin and sea-coal. But since my late forced visit to my estate, I am so pleased with it, that I am resolved to live and die upon it. I am every day abroad among my acres, and can scarce forbear filling my letter with breezes, shades, flowers, meadows, and purling streams. The simplicity of manners, which I have heard you so often speak of, and which appears here in perfection, charms me wonderfully. As an instance, of it I
must acquaint you, and by your means the whole club, that I have lately married one of my tenant's daughters. She is born of honest parents; and though she has no portion, she has a great deal of virtue. The natural sweetness and innocence of her behaviour, the freshness of her complexion, the unaffected turn of her shape and person, shot me through and through every time that I saw her, and did more execution upon me in grogram than the greatest beauty in town or court had ever done in brocade. In short, she is such a one as promises me a good heir to my estate; and if by her means I cannot leave to my children what are falsely called the gifts of birth, high titles, and alliances, I hope to convey to them the more real and valuable gifts of birth-strong bodies and healthy constitutions. As for your fine women, I need not tell thee that I know them. I have had my share in their graces ; but no more of that. It shall be my business hereafter to live the life of an honest man, and to act as becomes the master of a family. I question not but I shall draw upon me the raillery of the town, and be treated to the tune of, The Marriage-hater Matched;' but I am prepared for it. I have been as witty upon others in my time. To tell thee truly, I saw such a tribe of fashionable
fluttering coxcombs shot up that I did not think my post of a homme de ruelle any longer tenable. I felt a certain stiffness in my limbs, which entirely destroyed the jantiness of air I was once master of. Besides, for I may now confess my age to thee, I have been eight-and-forty above these twelve years. retirement into the country will make a vacancy in the club, I could wish you would fill up my place with my friend Tom Dapperwit. He has an infinite deal of fire, and knows the town. For my own part, as I have said before, I shall endeavour to live hereafter suitable to a man in my station, as a prudent head of a family, a good husband, a careful father (when it shall so happen), and as
Your most sincere friend, and humble servant, 0.
N° 531, SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 1712.
Qui mare et terras, variisque mundum
Hor. 1 Od. xii. 15.
That can be, is, or was;
Supreme he singly fills the throne.-Creech. SIMONIDES being asked by Dionysius the tyrant what God was, desired a day's time to consider of it before he made his reply. When the day was expired he desired two days; and afterward, instead of returning his answer, demanded still double the time to consider of it. This great poet and philosopher, the more he contemplated the nature of the Deity, found that he waded but the more out of his depth; and that he lost himself in the thought, instead of finding an end of it.
If we consider the idea which wise men, by the light of reason, have framed of the Divine Being, it amounts to this ; that he has in'him all the perfection of a spiritual nature. And, since we have no notion of any kind of spiritual perfection but what we discover in our own souls, we join infinitude to