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timed that the most judicious critic could never except against it. As soon as any shining thought is expressed in the poet, or any uncommon grace appears in the actor, he smites the bench or the wainscot. If the audience does not concur with him, he
No. 235.] Thursday, November 29, 1711. smites a second time: and if the audience is not yet awakened, looks round him with great wrath, and repeats the blow a third time, which never fails to produce the clap. He sometimes lets the audience begin the clap of themselves, and at the conclusion of their applause ratifies it with a single
THERE is nothing which lies more with-thwack. in the province of a Spectator than public shows and diversions; and as among these there are none which can pretend to vie with those elegant entertainments that are exhibited in our theatres, I think it particularly incumbent on me to take notice of every thing that is remarkable in such numerous and refined assemblies.
paradox will not be understood, that a pre-
He is of so great use to the play-house, that it is said, a former director of it, upon his not being able to pay his attendance by reason of sickness, kept one in pay to offciate for him until such time as he recovered; but the person so employed, though he laid about him with incredible violence, did it in such wrong places, that the audience soon found out that it was not their old friend the trunk-maker.
It has been remarked, that he has not yet exerted himself with vigour this season. He sometimes plies at the opera; and upon Nicolini's first appearance was said to have demolished three benches in the fury of his applause. He has broken half a dozen oaken plants upon Dogget,* and seldom goes away from a tragedy of Shakspeare, without leaving the wainscot extremely shattered.
It is observed, that of late years there has been a certain person in the upper gallery of the playhouse, who when he is pleased with any thing that is acted upon the stage, expresses his approbation by a loud knock upon the benches or the wainscot, which may be heard over the whole theatre. The person is commonly known by the name of the Trunk-maker in the upper gallery.' Whether it be that the blow he gives on these occasions resembles that which is often heard in the shops of such artisans, or that he was supposed to have been a real trunk-maker, who, after the finishing of his day's work, used to unbend his mind at these public diversions with his hammer in his hand, I cannot certainly tell. There are some, I know, who have been foolish enough to imagine it is a spirit which haunts the upper gallery, and from time to time makes those strange noises; and the rather, because he is observed to be louder than ordinary every time the ghost of Hamlet appears. Others have reported, that, it is a dumb man, who has chosen this way of uttering himself when he is transported with any thing he sees or hears. Others will have it to be the play-der to awaken their attention, and beat time house thunderer, that exerts himself after to their applauses; or, to raise my simile, I this manner in the upper gallery when he have sometimes fancied the trunk-maker has nothing to do upon the roof. in the upper gallery to be like Virgil's ruler of the winds, seated upon the top of a mountain, who when he struck his sceptre upon the side of it, roused a hurricane, and set the whole cavern in an uproar. †
In the meanwhile, I cannot but take notice of the great use it is to an audience, that a person should thus preside over their heads like the director of a concert, in or
But having made it my business to get the best information I could in a matter of this moment, I find that the trunk-maker, as he is commonly called, is a large black man, whom nobody knows. He generally leans forward on a huge oaken plant with great attention to every thing that passes upon the stage. He never is seen to smile, but upon hearing any thing that pleases him, he takes up his staff with both hands, and lays it upon the next piece of timber Thomas Dogget, a celebrated comic actor, many that stands in his way with exceeding ve-in 1721, leaving a legacy to provide a coat and badge years joint manager of Drury-lane Theatre. He died hemence; after which he composes himself to be rowed for, from London Bridge to Chelsea, by six in his former posture, till such time as watermen yearly, on the first of August, the day of the accession of George I. There is a particular account something new sets him again at work. of him in Cibber's Apology. † Æneid, i. 85.
It is certain the trunk-maker has saved many a good play, and brought many a graceful actor into reputation, who would not otherwise have been taken notice of. It is very visible, as the audience is not a little
It has been observed, his blow is so well
The players do not only connive at his obstreperous approbation, but very cheerfully repair at their own cost whatever damages he makes. They once had a thought of erecting a kind of wooden anvil for his use, that should be made of a very sounding plank, in order to render his strokes more deep and mellow; but as this might not have been distinguished from the music of a kettle-drum, the project was laid aside.
abashed, if they find themselves betrayed | dispositions are strangely averse to conjugal into a clap, when their friend in the upper friendship) but no one, I believe, is by his gallery does not come into it; so the actors own natural complexion prompted to tease do not value themselves upon the clap, but and torment another for no reason but being regard it as a mere brutum fulmen, or nearly allied to him. And can there be any empty noise, when it has not the sound of thing more base, or serve to sink a man so the oaken plant in it. I know it has been much below his own distinguishing characgiven out by those who are enemies to the teristic, (I mean reason,) than returning evil trunk-maker, that he has sometimes been for good in so open a manner, as that of bribed to be in the interest of a bad poet, or treating a helpless creature with unkinda vicious player; but this is a surmise whichness, who has had so good an opinion of him as to believe what he said relating to one of the greatest concerns of life, by delivering her happiness in this world to his care and protection? Must not that man be abandoned even to all manner of humanity, who can deceive a woman with appearances of affection and kindness, for no other end but to torment her with more ease and authority? Is any thing more unlike a gentleman than when his honour is engaged for the performing his promises, because nothing but that can oblige him to it, to become afterwards false to his word, and be alone the occasion of misery to one whose happiness he but lately pretended was dearer to him than his own? Ought such a
has no foundation: his strokes are always just, and his admonitions seasonable; he does not deal about his blows at random, but always hits the right nail upon the head. The inexpressible force wherewith he lays them on sufficiently shows the evidence and strength of his conviction. His zeal for a good author is indeed outrageous, and breaks down every fence and partition, every board and plank, that stands within the expression of his applause.
As I do not care for terminating my thoughts in barren speculations, or in reports of pure matter of fact, without drawing something from them for the advantage of my countrymen, I shall take the liberty
to make an humble proposal, that when-one to be trusted in his common affairs? or
No. 236.] Friday, November 30, 1711.
'MR. SPECTATOR,-You have not spoken in so direct a manner upon the subject of marriage, as that important case deserves.quence, which will be certain and worse It would not be improper to observe upon than the present evil; his seeming indifferthe peculiarity in the youth of Great Britain ence will by degrees grow into real conof railing and laughing at that institution; tempt, and if it doth not wholly alienate the and when they fall into it, from a profligate affections of his wife for ever from him, habit of mind, being insensible of the satis- make both him and her more miserable faction in that way of life, and treating their than if it really did so. wives with the most barbarous disrespect.
However inconsistent it may appear, to
Particular circumstances, and cast of be thought a well-bred person has no small temper, must teach a man the probability share in this clownish behaviour. A disof mighty uneasiness in that state; (for un-course therefore relating to good-breeding questionably some there are whose very towards a loving and a tender wife, would
be of great use to this sort of gentlemen. | yet taken any notice of it: if you mention it Could you but once convince them, that to in your paper, it may perhaps have a very be civil at least is not beneath the character good effect. What I mean is, the disturbof a gentleman, nor even tender affection ance some people give to others at church, towards one who would make it reciprocal, by their repetition of the prayers after the betrays any softness or effeminacy that the minister; and that not only in the prayers, most masculine disposition need be ashamed but also in the absolution; and the comof; could you satisfy them of the generosity mandments fare no better, which are in a of voluntary civility, and the greatness of particular manner the priest's office. This soul that is conspicuous in benevolence with- I have known done in so audible a manner, out immediate obligations; could you re- that sometimes their voices have been as commend to people's practice the saying of loud as his. As little as you would think it, the gentleman quoted in one of your specu- this is frequently done by people seemingly lations, "That he thought it incumbent devout. This irreligious inadvertency is a upon him to make the inclinations of a wo- thing extremely offensive: But I do not reman of merit go along with her duty;" commend it as a thing I give you liberty to could you, I say, persuade these men of the ridicule, but hope it may be amended by beauty and reasonableness of this sort of the bare mention. Sir, your very humble behaviour, I have so much charity, for servant, 'T. S.' some of them at least, to believe you would convince them of a thing they are only ashamed to allow. Besides, you would recommend that state in its truest, and consequently its most agreeable colours: and the gentlemen, who have for any time been such professed enemies to it, when occasion should serve, would return you their thanks for assisting their interest in prevailing over their prejudices. Marriage in general would by this means be a more easy and comfortable condition; the husband would be no where so well satisfied as in his own parlour, nor the wife so pleasant as in the company of her husband. A desire of being agreeable in the lover would be increased in the husband, and the mistress be more amiable by becoming the wife. Besides all which, I am apt to believe we should find the race of men grow wiser as their progenitors grew kinder, and the affection of their parents would be conspicuous in the wisdom of their children; in short, men would in general be much better humoured than they are, did they not so frequently exercise the worst turns of their temper where they ought to exert the best.'
No. 237.] Saturday, December 1, 1711.
Visu carentem magna pars verit latet.
Ir is very reasonable to believe, that part of the pleasure which happy minds shall enjoy in a future state, will arise from an enlarged contemplation of the Divine Wisdom in the government of the world, and a discovering of the secret and amazing steps of Providence, from the beginning to the end of time. Nothing seems to be an entertainment more adapted to the nature of man, if we consider that curiosity is one of the strongest and most lasting appetites implanted in us, and that admiration is one of our most pleasing passions; and what a perpetual succession of enjoyments will be afforded to both these, in a scene so large and various as shall there be laid open to our view in the society of superior spirits, who perhaps will join with us in so delightful a prospect!
'Mr. SpectatOR,—I am a woman who left the admiration of the whole town to throw myself (for love of wealth) into the arms of a fool. When I married him, I could have had any one of several men of sense who languished for me; but my case
It is not impossible, on the contrary, that cluded from bliss, may consist not only in part of the punishment of such as are extheir being denied this privilege, but in having their appetites at the same time vastly increased without any satisfaction afforded to them. In these, the vain pur
is just. I believed my superior understand-suit of knowledge shall, perhaps, add to their infelicity, and bewilder them into labyrinths of error, darkness, distraction, and uncertainty of every thing but their own evil state. Milton has thus represented the fallen angels reasoning together in a kind of respite from their torments, and
ing would form him into a tractable creature. But, alas! my spouse has cunning and suspicion, the inseparable companions of little minds; and every attempt I make to divert, by putting on an agreeable air, a sudden cheerfulness, or kind behaviour, he looks upon as the first act towards an insur-creating to themselves a new disquiet amidst rection against his undeserved dominion their very amusements; he could not proover me. Let every one who is still to perly have described the sport of conchoose, and hopes to govern a fool, remem- demned spirits, without that cast of horror and melancholy he has so judiciously mingled with them:
'St. Martin's, Nov. 25. 'MR. SPECTATOR,-This is to complain of an evil practice which I think very well deserves a redress, though you have not as
Others apart sat on a hill retir'd,
In thoughts more elevate, and reason'd high
Fixt fate, freewill, foreknowledge absolute, And found no end in wandering mazes lost.* In our present condition, which is a middle state, our minds are as it were check-our knowledge, and even that little we disered with truth and falsehood: and as our cern imperfectly; or according to the elefaculties are narrow, and our views imper- gant figure in holy writ, we see but in fect, it is impossible but our curiosity must part, and as in a glass darkly ' It is to be meet with many repulses. The business considered, that Providence in its economy of mankind in this life being rather to act regards the whole system of time and than to know, their portion of knowledge is things together, so that we cannot disdealt to them accordingly. cover the beautiful connection between inFrom hence it is, that the reason of the cidents which lie widely separate in time, inquisitive has so long been exercised with and by losing so many links of the chain, difficulties, in accounting for the promiscu- our reasonings become broken and imperous distribution of good and evil to the vir- fect. Thus those parts of the moral world tuous and the wicked in this world. From which have not an absolute, may yet have hence come all those pathetic complaints a relative beauty, in respect of some other of so many tragical events which happen parts concealed from us, but open to his to the wise and the good; and of such sur-eye before whom 'past,' 'present,' and 'to prising prosperity, which is often the lott come,' are set together in one point of view: of the guilty and the foolish; that reason is and those events, the permission of which sometimes puzzled, and at a loss what to seems now to accuse his goodness, may in pronounce upon so mysterious a dispen- the consummation of things both magnify his goodness, and exalt his wisdom. And this is enough to check our presumption, since it is in vain to apply our measures of regularity to matters of which we know neither the antecedents nor the consequents, the beginning nor the end.
I shall relieve my readers from this abstracted thought, by relating here a Jewish tradition concerning Moses, which seems to be a kind of parable, illustrating what I have last mentioned. That great prophet, it is said, was called up by a voice from heaven to the top of a mountain; where in a conference with the Supreme Being, he was admitted to propose to him some questions concerning his administration of the universe. In the midst of this divine colloquy he was commanded to look down on the plain below. At the foot of the mountain there issued out a clear spring of water, at which a soldier alighted from his horse to drink. He was no sooner gone than a little boy came to the same place, and finding a purse of gold which the soldier had dropped, took it up and went away with it. Immediately after this came an infirm old man, weary with age and travelling, and having quenched his thirst, sat down to rest himself by the side of the spring. The soldier missing his purse returns to search for it, and demands it of the old man, who affirms he had not seen it, and appeals to heaven in witness of his innocence. The soldier not believing his protestations, kills him. Moses fell on his face with horror and amazement, when the divine voice thus prevented his expostulation: Be not surprised, Moses, nor ask why the Judge of the whole earth has suffered this thing to pass. The child is the occasion that the blood of the old man is spilt; but know that the old man whom thou sawest was the murderer of that child's father.' C.
Plato expresses his abhorrence of some fables of the poets, which seem to reflect on the gods as the authors of injustice; and lays it down as a principle, that whatever is permitted to befal a just man, whether poverty, sickness, or any of those things which seem to be evils, shall either in life or death conduce to his good. My reader will observe how agreeable this maxim is to what we find delivered by a greater authority. Seneca has written a discourse purposely on this subject; in which he takes pains, after the doctrine of the Stoics, to show that adversity is not in itself an evil; and mentions a noble saying of Demetrius, that nothing would be more unhappy than a man who had never known affliction.' He compares prosperity to the indulgence of a fond mother to a child, which often proves his ruin; but the affection of the Divine Being to that of a wise father, who would have his sons exercised with labour, disappointments, and pain, that they may gather strength and improve their fortitude. On this occasion, the philosopher rises into that celebrated sentiment, That there is not on earth a spectacle more worthy the regard of a Creator intent on his works than a brave man superior to his sufferings;' to which he adds, that it must be a pleasure to Jupiter himself to look down from heaven, and see Cato amidst the ruins of his country preserving his integrity.'
This thought will appear yet more reasonable, if we consider human life as a state of probation, and adversity as the post of honour in it, assigned often to the best and most select spirits. But what I would chiefly insist on here
* Paradise Lost, b. ii. v. 557.
↑ Spect. in folio; for reward, &c.
1 Vid. Senec. De constantia sapientis, sive quod in sapientem non cadit injuria.
is, that we are not at present in a proper situation to judge of the councils by which Providence acts, since but little arrives at
§ 1 Cor. xiii. 12.
AMONG all the diseases of the mind, there is not one more epidemical or more pernicious than the love of flattery. For as where the juices of the body are prepared to receive a malignant influence, there the disease rages with most violence; so in this Jistemper of the mind, where there is ever a propensity and inclination to suck in the poison, it cannot be but that the whole order of reasonable action must be overturned, for, like music, it
There can hardly, I believe, be imagined a more desirable pleasure than that of praise unmixed with any possibility of flattery. Such was that which Germanicus enjoyed, when, the night before a battle, desirous of some sincere mark of the esteem of his legions for him, he is described by Tacitus listening in a disguise to the dis
First we flatter ourselves, and then the flattery of others is sure of success. It awakens our self-love within, a party which is ever ready to revolt from our better judg-course of a soldier, and wrapt up in the ment, and join the enemy without. Hence fruition of his glory, whilst with an undeit is, that the profusion of favours we so signed sincerity they praised his noble and often see poured upon the parasite, are re- majestic mien, his affability, his valour, presented to us by our self-love, as justice conduct, and success in war. How must a done to the man who so agreeably reconman have his heart full-blown with joy in ciled us to ourselves. When we are over- such an article of glory as this? What a come by such soft insinuations and ensnaring spur and encouragement still to proceed in compliances, we gladly recompense the ar- those steps which had already brought him tifices that are made use of to blind our to so pure a taste of the greatest of mortal reason, and which triumph over the weak- enjoyments? nesses of our temper and inclinations.
It sometimes happens that even enemies and envious persons bestow the sincerest
But were every man persuaded from how mean and low a principle this passion is de-marks of esteem when they least design rived, there can be no doubt but the person it. Such afford a greater pleasure, as exwho should attempt to gratify it, would then torted by merit, and freed from all suspicion be as contemptible as he is now successful. of favour or flattery. Thus it is with MalIt is the desire of some quality we are not volio; he has wit, learning, and discernpossessed of, or inclination to be something ment, but tempered with an allay of envy, we are not, which are the causes of our self-love, and detraction. Malvolio turns giving ourselves up to that man who be- pale at the mirth and good-humour of the stows upon us the characters and qualities company, if it centre not in his person; he of others, which perhaps suit us as ill, and grows jealous and displeased when he were as little designed for our wearing, as ceases to be the only person admired, and their clothes. Instead of going out of our looks upon the commendations paid to anown complexional nature into that of others, other as a detraction from his merit, and an it were a better and more laudable industry attempt to lessen the superiority he affects; to improve our own, and instead of a mise- but by this very method, he bestows such rable copy become a good original; for praise as can never be suspected of flattery. there is no temper, no disposition so rude His uneasiness and distastes are so many and untractable, but may in its own pecu- sure and certain signs of another's title to liar cast and turn be brought to some agree- that glory he desires, and has the mortifiable use in conversation, or in the affairs of cation to find himself not possessed of. life. A person of a rougher deportment, and less tied up to the usual ceremonies of behaviour, will, like Manly in the play, please by the grace which nature gives to every action wherein she is complied with; the brisk and lively will not want their admirers, and even a more reserved and melancholy temper may at sometimes be agreeable.
A good name is fitly compared to a precious ointment, and when we are praised with skill and decency, it is indeed the most agreeable perfume; but if too strongly admitted into a brain of a less vigorous and happy texture, it will, like too strong an odour, overcome the senses, and prove pernicious to those nerves it was intended to refresh. A generous mind is of all others the most sensible of praise and dispraise; and a noble spirit is as much invigorated with its due proportion of honour and ap
Eccles. vii. 1.
-So softens and disarms the mind,
with merit enough to be a coxcomb. But if flattery be the most sordid act that can be complied with, the art of praising justly is as commendable; for it is laudable to praise well; as poets at one and the same time give immortality, and receive it themselves for a reward. Both are pleased; the one whilst he receives the recompence of merit, the other whilst he shows he knows how to discern it; but above all, that man is happy in this art, who, like a skilful painter, retains the features and complexion, but still softens the picture into the most agreeable likeness.
When there is not vanity enough awake in a man to undo him, the flatterer stirs up that dormant weakness, and inspires him
* Wycherley's comedy of the Plain Dealer.