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With equal foot, rich friend, impartial fate
WHEN I am in a serious humour, I very
This letter puts me in mind of an Italian fields, as he thought the nature of the soil epitaph, written on the monument of a va- | required. At the end of the year, when letudinarian: Stavo ben, ma per star meg- he expected to see a more than ordinary lio, sto qui:' which it is impossible to crop, his harvest fell infinitely short of that translate. The fear of death often proves of his neighbours. Upon which (says the mortal, and sets people on methods to save fable) he desired Jupiter to take the their lives, which infallibly destroy them. | weather again into his own hands, or This is a reflection made by some histo- that otherwise he should utterly ruin himC. rians, upon observing that there are many more thousands killed in a flight, than in a battle; and may be applied to those multitudes of imaginary sick persons that No. 26.] Friday, March 30, 1711. break their constitutions by physic, and Pallida mors æquo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas, throw themselves into the arms of death, Regumque turres. O beate Sexti, by endeavouring to escape it. This me- Vitæ summa brevis spem nos vetat inchoare longam, Jam te premet nox, fabulæque manes, thod is not only dangerous, but below the practice of a reasonable creature. To con- Et domus exilis Plutonia.--Hor. Lib. 1. Od. iv. 13. sult the preservation of life, as the only Knocks at the cottage, and the palace gate: end of it, to make our health our business, Life's span forbids thee to extend thy cares, to engage in no action that is not part of a And stretch thy hopes beyond thy years: Night soon will seize, and you must quickly go regimen, or course of physic; are pur-To story'd ghosts, and Pluto's house below. Creech. poses so abject, so mean, so unworthy human nature, that a generous soul would rather die than submit to them. Besides often walk by myself in Westminster Ab that a continual anxiety for life vitiates all bey; where the gloominess of the place, the relishes of it, and casts a gloom over and the use to which it is applied, with the the whole face of nature; as it is impossible solemnity of the building, and the condiwe should take delight in any thing that tion of the people who lie in it, are apt to fill the mind with a kind of melancholy, or we are every moment afraid of losing. rather thoughtfulness, that is not disagreeable. I yesterday passed a whole afternoon in the church-yard, the cloisters, and the church, amusing myself with the tombstones and inscriptions that I met with in those several regions of the dead. Most of them recorded nothing else of the buried person, but that he was born upon one day, and died upon another; the whole history of his life being comprehended in those two circumstances that are common to all mankind. I could not but look upon these registers of existence, whether of brass or marble, as a kind of satire upon the departed persons; who had left no other memorial of them but that they were born, and that they died. They put me in mind of several persons mentioned in the battles of heroic poems, who have sounding names given them, for no other reason but that they may be killed, and are celebrated for nothing but being knocked on
I do not mean, by what I have here said, that I think any one to blame for taking due care of their health. On the contrary, as cheerfulness of mind, and capacity for business, are in a great measure the effects of a well-tempered constitution, a man cannot be at too much pains to cultivate and preserve it. But this care, which we are prompted to, not only by common sense, but by duty and instinct, should never engage us in groundless fears, melancholy apprehensions, and imaginary distempers, which are natural to every man who is more anxious to live, than how to die. In short, the preservation of life should be only a secondary concern, and the direction of it our principal. If we have this frame of mind, we shall take the best means to preserve life, without being over solicitous about the event; and shall arrive at that point of felicity which Martial has mentioned as the perfection of happiness, of neither fearing nor wishing for death. In answer to the gentleman, who tempers his health by ounces and by scruples, and instead of complying with those natural solicitations of hunger and thirst, drowsiness or love of exercise, governs himself by the prescriptions of his chair, I shall tell him a short fable. Jupiter, says the mythologist, Upon my going into the church, I enterto reward the piety of a certain country-tained myself with the digging of a grave; man, promised to give him whatever he and saw in every shovel-full of it that was would ask. The countryman desired that thrown up, the fragment of a bone or skull he might have the management of the wea-intermixt with a kind of fresh mouldering ther in his own estate. He obtained his earth that some time or other had a place request, and immediately distributed rain, in the composition of an human body. snow, and sunshine among his several Upon this I began to consider with myself, what innumerable multitudes of people lay confused together under the pavement of that ancient cathedral; how men and
The life of these men is finely described in holy writ by the path of an arrow,' which is immediately closed up and lost.
|‘Γλαυκον τε, Μίδοντα τε, Θερσίλοχον τε.' —Hom.
The following translation, however, may give an English reader some idea of the Italian epitaph: I was well, but striving to be better, I am here."
women, friends and enemies, priests and soldiers, monks and prebendaries, were crumbled amongst one another, and blended together in the same common mass; how beauty, strength, and youth, with old age, weakness, and deformity, lay undistinguished, in the same promiscuous heap of
After having thus surveyed this great magazine of mortality, as it were in the lump, I examined it more particularly by the accounts which I found on several of the monuments which are raised in every quarter of that ancient fabric. Some of them were covered with such extravagant epitaphs, that if it were possible for the dead person to be acquainted with them, he would blush at the praises which his friends have bestowed upon him. There are others so excessively modest, that they deliver the character of the person departed in Greek or Hebrew, and by that means are not understood once in a twelvemonth. In the poetical quarter, I found there were poets who had no monuments, and monuments which had no poets. I observed, indeed, that the present war had filled the church with many of these uninhabited monuments, which had been erected to the memory of persons whose bodies were perhaps buried in the plains of Blenheim, or in the bosom of the ocean.
the repository of cur English kings for the
I could not but be very much delighted with several modern epitaphs, which are written with great elegance of expression and justness of thought, and therefore do honour to the living as well as to the dead.
As a foreigner is very apt to conceive an No. 27.] Saturday, March 31, 1711. idea of the ignorance or politeness of a nation from the turn of their public monuments and inscriptions, they should be submitted to the perusal of men of learning and genius before they are put in execution. Sir Cloudesly Shovel's monument has very often given me great offence. Instead of the brave rough English admiral, which was the distinguishing character of that plain, gallant man, he is represented on his tomb by the figure of a beau, dressed in a long periwig, and reposing himself upon velvet cushions, under a canopy of state. The inscription is answerable to the monument: for instead of celebrating the many remarkable actions he had performed in the service of his country, it acquaints us only with the manner of his death, in which it was impossible for him to reap any honour. The Dutch, whom we are apt to despise for want of genius, show an infinitely greater taste of antiquity and politeness in their buildings and works of this nature, than what we meet with in those of our own country. The monuments of their admirals, which have been erected at the public expense, represent them like themselves, and are adorned with rostral crowns and naval ornaments, with beautiful festoons of sea-weed, shells, and coral. But to return to our subject. I have left
Ut nox longa, quibus mentitur amica, diesque
Long as to him, who works for debt, the day;
THERE is scarce a thinking man in the world, who is involved in the business of it, but lives under a secret impatience of the hurry and fatigue he suffers, and has formed a resolution to fix himself, one time or other, in such a state as is suitable to the end of his being. You hear men every day, in conversation, profess, that all the honour, power, and riches, which they propose to themselves, cannot give satisfaction enough to reward them for half the anxiety they undergo in the pursuit or possession of
them. While men are in this temper | live. The station I am in furnishes me with
Since then it is certain that our own hearts deceive us in the love of the world, and that we cannot command ourselves enough to resign it, though we every day wish ourselves disengaged from its allurements, let us not stand upon a formal taking of leave, but wean ourselves from them while we are in the midst of them.
It is certainly the general intention of the greater part of mankind to accomplish this work, and live according to their own approbation, as soon as they possibly can. But since the duration of life is so uncertain, and that has been a common topic of discourse ever since there was such a thing as life itself, how is it possible that we should defer a moment the beginning to live according to the rules of reason?
'SIR,-I am entirely convinced of the truth of what you were pleased to say to told me then of the silly way I was in; but me, when I was last with you alone. You you told me so, as I saw you loved me, in letting you know my thoughts so sinotherwise I could not obey your commands cerely as I do at present. I know "the character," is all that you said of her; but creature, for whom I resign so much of my then the trifler has something in her so undesigning and harmless, that her guilt in one kind disappears by the comparison of her innocence in another. Will you, virMust dear Chloe be called by the hard tuous man, allow no alteration of offences? men? I keep the solemn promise I made name you pious people give to common wo
The man of business has ever some one point to carry, and then he tells himself he will bid adieu to all the vanity of ambition. The man of pleasure resolves to take his leave at least, and part civilly with his mistress; but the ambitious man is entangled every moment in a fresh pursuit, and the lover sees new charms in the object he fan-you in writing to you the state of my mind, cied he could abandon. It is therefore a fan- deavour to get the better of this fondness, after your kind admonition; and will entastical way of thinking, when we promise which makes me so much her humble serourselves an alteration in our conduct from change of place, and difference of circum- vant, that I am almost ashamed to subscribe myself yours, stances; the same passions will attend us wherever we are, till they are conquered, and we can never live to our satisfaction in the deepest retirement, unless we are capable of living so, in some measure, amidst the noise and business of the world.
I have ever thought men were better known by what could be observed of them from a perusal of their private letters, than any other way. My friend the clergyman, the other day, upon serious discourse with him concerning the danger of procrastination, gave me the following letters from persons with whom he lives in great friendship and intimacy, according to the good breeding and good sense his character. The first is from a man of business, who is his convert: the second from one of whom he conceives good hopes: the third from one who is in no state at all, but carried one way and another by starts.
'SIR,-I know not with what words to express to you the sense I have of the high obligation you have laid upon me, in the penance you enjoined me of doing some good or other to a person of worth every day I
possible, both to my duty and iny inclina-
Monday, April 2, 1711."
Neque semper arcum Tendit Apollo. Hor. Lib. 2. Od. x. 19. Nor does Apollo always bend his bow. I SHALL here present my reader with a letter from a projector, concerning a new office, which he thinks may very much contribute to the embellishment of the city, and to the driving barbarity out of our streets. I consider it as a satire upon projectors in general, and a lively picture of the whole art of modern criticism.
nuns and a hare, which we see so frequently joined together. I would therefore establish certain rules, for the determining how far one tradesman may give the sign of another, and in what cases he may be allowed to quarter it with his own.
In the third place, I would enjoin every shop to make use of a sign which bears some affinity to the wares in which it deals. What can be more inconsistent, than to see a bawd at the sign of the angel, or a tailor at the lion? A cook should not live at the boot, nor a shoemaker at the roasted pig; and yet, for want of this regulation, I have seen a goat set up before the door of a perfumer, and the French king's head at a sword-cutler's.
SIR,—Observing that you have thoughts of creating certain officers under you, for the inspection of several petty enormities which you yourself cannot attend to; and finding daily absurdities hung out upon the sign-posts of this city, to the great scandal of foreigners, as well as those of our own country, who are curious spectators of the same; I do humbly propose that you will be pleased to make me your superintendant of all such figures and devices, as are or shall be made use of on this occasion; with full powers to rectify or expunge whatever I shall find irregular or defective. For want of such an officer, there is nothing like sound literature and good sense to be met with in those objects that are every where thrusting themselves out to the eye, and endeavouring to become visible. Our streets are filled with blue boars, black swans, and red lions; not to mention flying pigs, and hogs in armour, with many other creatures more extraordinary than any in the deserts of Africa. Strange! that one who has all the birds and beasts in nature to choose out of, should live at the sign of
an Ens Rationis!
My first task therefore should be, like that of Hercules, to clear the city from monsters. In the second place, I would forbid that creatures of jarring and incongruous natures should be joined together in the same sign; such as the bell and the neat's tongue, the dog and the gridiron. The fox and the goose may be supposed to have met, but what has the fox and the seven stars to do together? And when did the lamb and dolphin ever meet, except upon a sign post? As for the cat and fiddle, there is a conceit in it; and therefore I do not intend that any thing I have here said should affect it. I must however observe to you upon this subject, that it is usual for a young tradesman, at his first setting up, to add to his own sign that of the master whom he served; as the husband, after marriage, gives a place to his mistress's arms in his own coat. This I take to have given rise to many of those absurdities which are committed over our heads; and, as I am informed, first occasioned the three
veral of those gentlemen who value them'An ingenicus foreigner observes, that seselves upon their families, and overlook such as are bred to trade, bear the tools of their forefathers in their coats of arms. I will not examine how true this is in fact. But though it may not be necessary for posterity thus to set up the sign of their forefathers, I think it highly proper for those who actually profess the trade to show some such marks of it before their doors.
ingenicus sign-post, I would likewise advise When the name gives an occasion for an the owner to take that opportunity of letting the world know who he is. It would have been ridiculous for the ingenious Mrs. Salmon to have lived at the sign of the trout; for which reason she has erected before her house the figure of the fish that is her namesake. Mr. Bell has likewise distinguished himself by a device of the same nature: and here, sir, I must beg leave to observe to you, that this particular figure of a bell has given occasion to several pieces of wit in this kind. A man of your reading must know, that Abel Drugger gained great applause by it in the time of Ben Jonson. Our apocryphal heathen god is also represented by this figure; which, in conjunction with the dragon, makes a very handsome picture in several of our streets. As for the bell-savage, which is the sign of a savage man standing by a bell, I was formerly very much puzzled upon the conceit of it, till I accidentally fell into the reading of an old romance translated out of the French; which gives an account of a very beautiful woman who was found in a wilderness, and is called in the French La belle Sauvage; and is every where translated by our countrymen the bell-savage. This piece of philosophy will, I hope, convince you that I have made sign-posts my study, and consequently qualified myself for the employment which I solicit at your hands. But before I conclude my letter, I must communicate to you another remark, which I have made upon the subject with which I am now entertaining you, namely, that I can give a shrewd guess at the hu
* St. George.
surdity, when it was impossible for a hero in a desert, or a princess in her closet, to speak any thing unaccompanied with musical instruments.
But however this Italian method of acting in recitativo might appear at first hearing, I cannot but think it much more just than that which prevailed in our English opera before this innovation: the transition from an air to recitative music being more natural, than the passing from a song to plain and ordinary speaking, which was the common method in Purcell's operas.
The only fault I find in our present practice, is the making use of the Italian recitativo with English words.
I shall add to the foregoing letter another, which came to me by the same penny-post. From my own apartment 'HONOURED SIR, near Charing-cross.
To go to the bottom of this matter, I must observe, that the tone, or (as the French call it) the accent of every nation in their ordinary speech, is altogether different from that of any other people; as we may see even in the Welch and Scotch, who border so near upon us. By the tone or accent, I do not mean the pronunciation of each particular word, but the scund of the whole sentence. Thus it is very common for an English gentleman, when he hears a French tragedy, to complain that the actors all of them speak in a tone: and therefore he very
Having heard that this nation is a great encourager of ingenuity, I have brought with me a rope-dancer that was caught in one of the woods belonging to the great Mogul. He is by birth a monkey; but swings upon a rope, takes a pipe of tobacco, and drinks a glass of ale, like any reasonable creature. He gives great satis-wisely prefers his own countrymen, not confaction to the quality; and if they will make sidering that a foreigner complains of the a subscription for him, I will send for a same tone in an English actor. brother of his out of Holland, that is a very good tumbler; and also for another of the same family whom I design for my merry; Andrew, as being an excellent mimic, and the greatest droll in the country where he now is. I hope to have this entertainment in readiness for the next winter; and doubt not but it will please more than the opera, or puppet-show. I will not say that a monkey is a better man than some of the opera heroes; but certainly he is a better representative of a man, than the most artificial composition of wood and wire. If you will be pleased to give me a good word in your paper, you shall be every night a spectator at my show for nothing. I am, &c.'
mour of the inhabitant by the sign that
For this reason, the recitative music, in the tone or accent of each language; for every language, should be as different as otherwise, what may properly express a passion in one language will not do it in another. Every one who has been long in Italy knows very well, that the cadences in the recitativo bear a remote affinity to the tone of their voices in ordinary conversation, or, to speak more properly, are only the accents of their language made more musical and tuneful.
Thus the notes of interrogation, or admiration, in the Italian music (if one may so call them) which resemble their accents in discourse on such occasions, are not unlike the ordinary tones of an English voice when we are angry; insomuch that I have often seen our audiences extremely mistaken, as to what has been doing upon the stage, and expecting to see the hero knock down his messenger, when he has been asking him a question; or fancying that he quarrels with his friend, when he only bids him good
No. 29.] Tuesday, April 3, 1711.
Sermo lingua concinnus utraque Suavior: ut Chio nota si commista Falerni est. Hor. Lib. 1. Sat. x. 23. Both tongues united sweeter sounds produce, Like Chian mix'd with the Falernian juice. THERE is nothing that has more startled our English audience, than the Italian recitativo at its first entrance upon the stage. People were wonderfully surprised to hear generals singing the word of command, and ladies delivering messages in music. Our countrymen could not forbear laughing I am therefore humbly of opinion, that when they heard a lover chanting out a an English composer should not follow the billet-doux, and even the superscription of Italian recitative too servilely, but make a letter set to a tune. The famous blunder use of many gentle deviations from it, in in an old play of Enter a king and two compliance with his own native language. fiddlers solus,' was now no longer an ab- He may copy out of it all the lulling soft
For this reason the Italian artists cannot agree with our English musicians in admiring Purcell's compositions, and thinking his tunes so wonderfully adapted to his words; because both nations do not always express the same passions by the same sounds.