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N° 616. Friday, November 5, 1714.
Qui bellus homo eft, Cotta, pufillus homo eft.
Martial Epig. x. i. • A pretty fellow is but half a man.'
MICERO hath observed, that a jest is never
uttered with a better grace than when it is accompanied with a serious countenance. When a pleasant thought plays in the features before it discovers itself in words, it raises too great an expectation, and loses the advantage of giving surprise. Wit and humour are no less poorly recommended by a levity of phrase, and that kind of language which may be distinguished by the name of Cant. Ridicule is never more ftrong than when it is concealed in gravity. True humour lies in the thought, and arises from the representation of images in odd circumstances and uncommon lights. A pleasant thought strikes us by the force of its natural beauty; and the mirth of it is generally rather palled than heightened, by that ridiculous phrafeology which is so much in fashion
the pretenders to humour and pleasantry. This tribe of men are like our mountebanks; they make a man a wit by putting him in a fantastic habit.
Our little burlesque authors, who are the delight of ordinary readers, generally abound in these pert phrases which have in them more vivacity than wit.
I lately saw an instance of this kind of writing, which gave me so lively an idea of it, that I could not forbear begging a copy of the letter from the gentleman who shewed it to me. It is written by a country wit, upon the occasion of the rejoicings on the day of the king's coronation.
Past two o'clock and a • Dear Jack,
frosty morning.' HAVE just left the right worshipful and
his myrmidons about a sneaker of five galgallons. The whole magistracy was pretty ' well disguised before I gave them the slip. Our • friend the alderman was half-seas over before the • bonfire was out. We had with us the attorney,
and two or three other bright fellows. The • doctor plays least in fight.
• At nine o'clock in the evening we set fire to the whore of Babylon. The devil acted his part to a miracle. He has made his fortune
We equipped the young dog with a • tefter a-piece. Honest old Brown of England
was very drunk, and Thewed his loyalty to • the tune of a hundred rockets. The mob • drank the king's health on their marrowbones, • in mother Day's double. They whipped us • half a dozen hogsheads. Poor Tom Tyler • had like to have been demolished with the end • of a skyrocket, that fell upon the bridge of • his nose as he was drinking the king's health, · and spoiled his tip. The mob were very loyal ' until about midnight, when they grew a little ' mutinous for more liquor. They had like to
· have dumfounded the justice; but his clerk
came in to his assistance, and took them all 6 down in black and white.
• When I had been huzzaed out of my « feven senses, I made a visit to the women, • who were guzzling very comfortably. Mrs.
Mayoress clipped the king's English. Clack was the word.
• I forgot to tell thee that every one of the • poffé had his hat cocked with a distich; the • lenators sent us down a cargo of ribbon and metre for the occasion.
• Sir Richard, to shew his zeal for the Pro• teftant religion, is at the expense of a tar• barrel and a ball. I peeped into the knight's
great hall and saw a very pretty bevy of spin• Iters. My dear relict was amongst them, and • ambled in a country-dance as notably as the 6 best of them.
• May all his majesty's liege subjects love him as well as his good people of this his ancient borough. Adieu * "
* This letter seems to have been dated from Stockbridge, for which Sir RICHARD Steele was member of Parliament. The letter in the next Paper, No 617, was written, it is said, from the same place, and on the same occasion as this. These two letters were probably communicated to ADDISON by his friend, and for any thing that clearly appears to the contrary, were, it may be, all the parts in the papers of that volume in which STEELE had directly or indirectly any sort of concern. This whole eighth volume was published originally as the other volumes were in half-Sheets, with fewer advertisements, an argument of it's less extensive fale; under the sole direction of Addison and Mr. E. Budgell.
N°617. Monday, November 8, 1714.
Torva Mimalloneis implerunt cornua bombis,
PERSIUS, Sat. i. 104. · Their crooked horns the Mimallonian crew
With blasts inspir’d; and Baslaris, who flew · The scornful calf, with sword advanc'd on high, • Made from his neck his haughty head to fly. • And Mænas, when, with ivy-bridles bound, • She led the spotted lynx, then Evion rung
• around, • Evion from woods and floods repairing echo's 6 found.'
DRYDEN WHERE are two extremes in the style of
humour, one of which consists in the use of that little pert phraseology which I took notice of in my laft Paper; the other in the asfectation of trained and pompous expressions, fetched from the learned languages. The first savours too much of the town; the other of the college.
As nothing illustrates better than example, I shall here present my reader with a letter of pedantic humour, which was written by a young gentleman of the university to his friend, on the same occasion, and from the same place,
as the lively epistle
last SPECTATOR :
• Dear CHUM*
greatest part of which I have spent round a capacious bowl of China, filled with the • choicest products of both the Indies. I was
placed at a quadrangular table, diametrically
opposite to the mace-bearer. The visage of • that venerable herald was, according to cus• tom, most gloriously illuminated on this joy. • ful occasion. The mayor and aldermen, those
pillars of our constitution, began to totter;
and if any one at the board could have so far ' articulated, as to have demanded intelligibly ' a reinforcement of liquor, the whole ai
sembly had been by this time extended under • the table.
• The celebration of this night's solemnity was opened by the obstreperous joy of drummers, who, with their parchment thunder,
gave a signal for the appearance of the mob 6 under their several classes and denominations.
They were quickly joined by the melodious • clank of marrowbones and cleavers, while a
chorus of bells filled up the concert. "mid of stack-faggots cheered the hearts of the
populace with a promise of a blaze; the • ħad no sooner uttered the prologue, but the • heavens were brightened with artificial me.
* A cant word for a chamber-companion and bed-fellow at college