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The petition of the Grave-digger in Hamlet, to command the Pioneers in the expedition of Alex
certain lady, whom I shall here call by the name of Leonora, and as it contained matters of consequence, desired me to deliver it to her with my own hand. Accordingly I waited upon her ladyship pretty early in the morning, and was desired
The petition of William Bullock, to be He- by her woman to walk into her lady's library, phestion to Penkethman the Great.f
till such time as she was in readiness to receive me. The very sound of a lady's library gave me a great curiosity to see it; and as it was some time before the lady came to me, I had an opportunity of turning over a great many of her books, which A widow gentlewoman, well born both by father were ranged together in a very beautiful order. At and mother's side, being the daughter of Thomas the end of the folios (which were finely bound and Prater, once an eminent practitioner in the law, and gilt) were great jars of china placed one above of Letitia Tattle, a family well known in all parts of another in a very noble piece of architecture.f this kingdom, having been reduced by misfortunes to The quartos were separated from the octavos by a wait on several great persons, and for some time to be a pile of smaller vessels, which rose in a delighful teacher at a boarding-school of young ladies, giveth pyramid. The octavos were bounded by teanotice to the public, that she hath lately taken a house dishes of all shapes, colours, and sizes, which were near Bloomsbury-square, commodiously situated next so disposed on a wooden frame, that they looked the fields, in a good air; where she teaches all sorts of like one continued pillar indented with the finest birds of the loquacious kinds, as parrots, starlings, strokes of sculpture, and stained with the greatest magpies, and others, to imitate human voices in greater variety of dyes. That part of the library which pe fiction than ever was yet practised. They are not was designed for the reception of plays and sady instructed to pronounce words distinctly, and in a pamphlets, and other loose papers, was enclosed proper tone and accent, but to speak the language with in a kind of square, consisting of one of the pretgreat purity and volubility of tongue, together with all tiest grotesque works that I ever saw, and made the fashionable phrases and compliments now in use up of scaramouches, hous, monkies, mandarines, either at tea-tables, or visiting-days. Those that have trees, shells, and a thousand other odd figures in good voices may be taught to sing the newest opera-airs, china ware. In the midst of the room was a little and if required, to speak either Italian or French, pay-japan table, with a quire of gilt paper upon it, ing something extraordinary above the common rates. and on the paper a silver snuff-box made in the They whose friends are not able to pay the full prices, shape of a little book. I found there were seve may be taken as half boarders. She teaches such as ralother counterfeit books upon the upper shelves, are designed for the diversion of the public, and to act which were carved in wood, and served only to fill in enchanted woods on the theatres, by the great. As up the numbers like faggots in the muster of a the has often observed with much concern how indecent regiment. I was wonderfully pleased with such a en education is usualy given these innocent creatures, mixed kind of furniture, as seemed very suitable which in some measure is owing to their being placed in both to the lady and the scholar, and did not know roms next the street, where, to the great offence of at first whether I should fancy myself in a grotto, chare and tender ears, they learn ribaldry, obscene or in a library.
ng, and immodest expressions, from passengers and Upon my looking into the books, I found there ide people, as also to cry fish and card-matches, with were some few which the lady had bought for her other useless parts of learning to birds who have rich own use, but that most of them had been got tofriends, she has fitted up proper and neat apartments for gether, either because she had heard them prais them in the back of her said house: where she suffered, or because she had seen the authors of them. me to approach them but herself, and a servant maid Among several that I examined, I very well rewho is deaf and dumb, and whom she provided on pur-member these that follow : pose to prepare their food, and cleanse their cages; havmy found by long experience how hard a thing it is for those to keep silence who have the use of speech, and the dangers her scholars are exposed to, by the strong im pressions that are made by harsh sounds, and vulgar dialects. In short, if they are birds of any parts or ca. pacity, she will undertake to render them so accomplished in the compass of a twelvemonth, that they shall be enversation for such ladies as love to choose their friends and companions out of this species.
Sour months ago, my friend Sir Roger, being in the country, enclosed a letter to me, directed to a
See No. 44, and Tat. Nos. 7 and 188.
See Nos. 31 and 370, and Tat, Nos, 4, 7, 20, and 183.
Sir Isaac Newton's Works.
The Grand Cyrus; with a pin stuck in one of the middle leaves.
Locke on Human Understanding; with a paper of patches in it.
A Spelling Book.
A Dictionary for the explanation of hard words.
The fifteen Comforts of Matrimony.
Sir William Temple's Essays.
Father Malebranche's Search after Truth, translated into English.
A book of Novels.
The Academy of Compliments.
The Ladies Calling.
her sex, who employ themselves in diversions that Tales in Verse, by Mr. Durfey; bound in red are less reasonable, though more in fashion? What
leather, gilt on the back, and doubled down in several places.
All the Classic Authors in wood.
A set of Elzevirs by the same hand.
improvements would a woman have made, who is so susceptible of impressions from what she reads, had she been guided to such books as have a tendency to enlighten the understanding and rectify
Clelia which opened of itself in the place that the passions, as well as to those which are of little
describes two lovers in a bower.
Advice to a Daughter.
The New Atalantis, with a Key to it.
Mr. Steele's Christian Hero.
A prayer-book: with a bottle of Hungary-water
Dr. Sacheverell's Speech.
Taylor's Holy Living and Dying.
La Ferte's Instructions for Country Dances.
more use than to divert the imagination?
But the manner of a lady's employing herself usefully in reading, shall be the subject of another paper, in which I design to recommend such particular books as may be proper for the improvement of the sex. And as this is a subject of a very nice nature, I shall desire my correspondents to give me their thoughts upon it.
No 38. FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 1711.
-Cupias non placuisse nimis.
I was taking a catalogue in my pocket-book of these, and several other authors, when Leonora entered, and upon my presenting her with a letter from the knight, told me, with an unspeakable grace, that she hoped Sir Roger was in good health: A LATE conversation which I fell into, gave me I answered Yes, for I hate long speeches, and after a bow or two retired.
an opportunity of observing a great deal of beauty in a very handsome woman, and as much wit in an Leonora was formerly a celebrated beauty, and ingenious man, turned into deformity in the one, is still a very lovely woman. She has been a widow and absurdity in the other, by the mere force of for two or three years, and being unfortunate in affectation. The fair one had something in her her first marriage, has taken a resolution never to person upon which her thoughts were fixed, that venture upon a second. She has no children to she attempted to show to advantage in every look, take care of, and leaves the management of her word, and gesture. The gentleman was as diligent estate to my good friend Sir Roger. But as the to do justice to his fine parts, as the lady to her mind naturally sinks into a kind of lethargy, and beauteous form. You might see his imagination falls asleep, that is not agitated by some favourite on the stretch to find out something uncommon, pleasures and pursuits, Leonora has turned all the and what they call bright, to entertain her, while passion of her sex into a love of books and retire-she writhed herself into as many different postures ment. She converses chiefly with men (as she has to engage him. When she laughed, her lips were often said herself), but it is only in their writings; to sever at a greater distance than ordinary, to and admits of very few male visitants, except my show her teeth; her fan was to point to something friend Sir Roger, whom she hears with great plea-at a distance, that in the reach she might discover sure, and without scandal. As her reading has the roundness of her arm; then she is utterly mislain very much among romances, it has given her taken in what she saw, falfs back, smiles at her a very particular turn of thinking, and discovers own folly, and is so wholly discomposed, that her itself even in her house, her gardens, and her fur-tucker is to be adjusted, her bosom exposed, and niture. Sir Roger has entertained me an hour the whole woman put into new airs and graces. together with a description of her country seat, While she was doing all this, the gallant had time which is situated in a kind of wilderness, about an to think of something very pleasant to say next to hundred miles distant from London, and looks like her, or make some unkind observation on some a little enchanted palace. The rocks about her other lady, to feed her vanity. These unhappy are shaped into artificial grottos covered with effects of affectation naturally led me to look woodbines and jessamines. The woods are cut into that strange state of mind which so gene. into shady walks, twisted into bowers, and filled rally discolours the behaviour of most people we with cages of turtles. The springs are made to meet with. run among pebbles, and by that means taught to The learned Dr. Burnet, in his Theory of the murmur very agreeably. They are likewise col- Earth, takes occasion to observe, that every thought lected into a beautiful lake that is inhabited by is attended with consciousness and representativea couple of swans, and empties itself by a little ness; the mind has nothing presented to it but rivulet which runs through a green meadow, and what is immediately followed by a reflection of is known in the family by the name of The Purl-conscience, which tells you whether that which was ing Stream. The knight likewise tells me, that this so presented is graceful or unbecoming. This act lady preserves her game better than any of the of the mind discovers itself in the gesture, by a gentlemen in the country, not (says Sir Roger) that proper behaviour in those whose consciousness she sets so great a value upon her partridges and goes no further than to direct them in the just propheasants, as upon her larks and nightingales.gress of their present state or action: but betrays For she says that every bird which is killed in an interruption in every second thought, when her ground will spoil a concert, and that she shall the consciousness is employed in too fondly ap certainly miss him the next year. proving a man's own conceptions; which sort of consciousness is what we call affectation.
When I think how oddly this lady is improved by learning, I look upon her with a mixture of As the love of praise is implanted in our bosoms admiration and pity. Amidst these innocent en- as a strong incentive to worthy actions, it is a very tertainments which she has formed to herself, how difficult task to get above a desire of it for things much more valuable does she appear than those of that should be wholly indifferent. Women, whose
hearts are fixed upon the pleasure they have in the It might be borne even here, but it often ascends consciousness that they are the objects of love and the pulpit itself; and the declaimer, in that sacred admiration, are ever changing the air of their coun-place, is frequently so impertinently witty, speaks tenances, and altering the attitude of their bodies, of the last day itself with so many quaint phrases, to strike the hearts of their beholders with new that there is no man who understands raillery, but sense of their beauty. The dressing part of our must resolve to sin no more. Nay, you may behold sex, whose minds are the same with the sillier part him sometimes in prayer, for a proper delivery of of the other, are exactly in the like uneasy condi- the great truths he is to utter, humble himself with ghestion to be regarded for a well-tied cravat, an hat so very well-turned phrase, and mention his own of another cocked with an uncommon briskness, a very well- unworthiness in a way so very becoming, that the such pachosen coat, or other instances of merit, which they air of the pretty gentleman is preserved, under the impros are impatient to see unobserved. lowliness of the preacher. ject of This apparent affectation, arising from an illsponder governed consciousness, is not so much to be won
I shall end this with a short letter I writ the other day to a very witty man, overrun with the dered at in such loose and trivial minds as these: fault I am speaking of: Cbut when we see it reign in characters of worth
and distinction, it is what you cannot but lament,
N° 39. SATURDAY, APRIL 14, 1711.
not without some indignation. It creeps into the 'I SPENT some time with you the other day, and heart of the wise man as well as that of the cox-must take the liberty of a friend to tell you of the comb. When you see a man of sense look about unsufferable affectation you are guilty of in all you for applause, and discover an itching inclination to say and do. When I gave you an hint of it, you be commended; lay traps for a little incense, even asked me whether a man is to be cold to what his from those whose opinion he values in nothing but friends think of him? No, but praise is not to be his own favour; who is safe against this weakness? the entertainment of every moment. He that hopes or who knows whether he is guilty of it or not? for it must be able to suspend the possession of it The best way to get clear of such a light fondness till proper periods of life, or death itself. If you for applause, is to take all possible care to throw would not rather be commended than be praiseoff the love of it upon occasions that are not in worthy, contemn little merits; and allow no man themselves laudable, but as it appears, we hope for to be so free with you, as to praise you to your no praise from them. Of this nature are all graces face. Your vanity by this means will want its in men's persons, dress, and bodily deportment, food. At the same time your passion for esteem which will naturally be winning and attractive if will be more fully, gratified; men will praise you we think not of them, but lose their force in pro- in their actions; where you now receive one comportion to our endeavour to make them such. pliment you will then receive twenty civilities. When our consciousness turns upon the main de-Till then you will never have of either, further than, sign of life, and our thoughts are employed upon the chief purpose either in business or pleasure, we shall never betray an affectation, for we cannot be guilty of it: but when we give the passion for praise an unbridled liberty, our pleasure in little perfections robs us of what is due to us for great virtues and worthy qualities. How many excellent speeches and honest actions are lost, for want of being indifferent where we ought? Men are oppressed with regard to their way of speaking and acting, instead of having their thoughts bent upon what they should do or say; and by that means bury a capacity for great things, by their fear of faling in indifferent things. This, perhaps, cannot be called affectation; but it has some tincture of at least so far as that their fear of erring in a As a perfect tragedy is the noblest production of thing of no consequence, argues they would be too human nature, so it is capable of giving the mind rauch pleased in performing it. one of the most delightful and most improving enIt is only from a thorough disregard to himself tertainments. A virtuous man (says Seneca) strug such particulars, that a man can act with a gling with misfortunes, is such a spectacle as gods udable sufficiency: his heart is fixed upon one might look upon with pleasure; and such a pleapoint in view; and he commits no errors, because sure it is which one meets with in the representase thinks nothing an error but what deviates from tion of a well-written tragedy. Diversions of this that intention. kind wear out of our thoughts every thing that is The wild havoc affectation makes in that part of mean and little. They cherish and cultivate that the world which should be most polite, is visible humanity which is the ornament of our nature. wherever we turn our eyes: it pushes men not only They soften insolence, sooth affliction, and subdue into impertinences in conversation, but also in their the mind to the dispensations of Providence. premeditated speeches. At the bar it torments the It is no wonder, therefore, that in all the polite bench, whose business it is to cut off all super-nations of the world, this part of the drama has fluities in what is spoken before it by the practi- met with public encouragement.
Multa fero, ut placem genus irritabile vatum,
HOR. 2 Ep. ii, 102.
Mireh do I suffer, much, to keep in peace
tioner; as well as several little pieces of injustice The modern tragedy excels that of Greece and which arise from the law itself. I have seen it Rome in the intricacy and disposition of the fable; make a man run from the purpose before a judge, but, what a Christian writer would be ashamed to who was, when at the bar himself, so close and own, falls infinitely short of it in the moral part of ogical a pleader, that with all the pomp of elo- the performance. quence in his power, he never spoke a word too much,
• Probably Lord Chancellor Cowper.
This I may show more at large hereafter; and in the mean time, that I may contribute something towards the improvement of the English dv,
I shall take notice, in this and in other following | thoughts are great and just, they are often ob papers, of some particular parts in it that seem scured by the sounding phrases, hard metaphors liable to exception. and forced expressions in which they are clothed Aristotle observes, that the Iambic verse in the Shakspeare is often very faulty in this particular Greek tongue was the most proper for tragedy: There is a fine observation in Aristotle to this pur because at the same time that it lifted up the dispose, which I have never seen quoted. The ex course from prose, it was that which approached pression,' says he, ought to be very much laboured nearer to it than any other kind of verse. For, in the unactive parts of the fable, as in descrip says he, we may observe that men in ordinary dis- tions, similitudes, narrations, and the like; in which course very often speak iambics, without taking the opinions, manners, and passions of men are notice of it.' We may make the same observation not represented! for these (namely, the opinions, of our English blank verse, which often enters into manners, and passions) are apt to be obscured by our common discourse, though we do not attend to pompous phrases and elaborate expressions Hoit, and is such a due medium between rhyme and race, who copied most of his criticisms after Aris prose, that it seems wonderfully adapted to tragedy. totle, seems to have had his eye on the foregoing I am therefore very much offended when I see a rule, in the following verses:
"Et tragicus plerumque dolet sermone pedestri:
Ars Poct. ver. 95.
Tragedians too lay by their state to grieve:
pisy la rhyme; which is as absurd in English, as a tragedy of hexameters would have been in Greek or Latin. The solecism is, I think, stili greater in those plays that have some scenes in rhyme and some in blank verse, which are to be looked upon as two several languages; or where we see some particular siniles dignified with rhyme, at the same time that every thing about them lies in blank verse. I would not, however, debar the poet from concluding his tragedy, or, if he pleases, every act of it, with two or three couplets, which may have Among our modern English poets, there is none the same effect as an air in the Italian opera after who was better turned for tragedy than Lee, if, a long recitativo, and give the actor a graceful instead of favouring the impetuosity of his genius, exit Besides that we see a diversity of numbers he had restrained it, and kept it within its proper in some parts of the old tragedy, in order to hinder bounds. His thoughts are wonderfully suited to the ear from being tired with the same continued tragedy, but frequently lost in such a cloud of modulation of voice. For the same reason I do words, that it is hard to see the beauty of them. not dislike the speeches in our English tragedy that There is an infinite fire in his works, but so inclose with an hemistich, or half verse, notwith-volved in smoke, that it does not appear in half standing the person who speaks after it begins aits lustre. He frequently succeeds in the passionate new verse, without filling up the preceding one; parts of the tragedy, but more particularly where nor will abrupt pauses and breakings off in the he slackens his efforts, and eases the style of those middle of a verse, when they humour any passion epithets and metaphors, in which he so much that is expressed by it. abounds. What can be more natural, more soft, or more passionate, than that line in Statira's speech, where she describes the charms of Alexander's conversation?
'Then he would talk-Good gods! how he would talk!'
Since I am upon this subject, I must observe that our English poets have succeeded much better in the style, than in the sentiments of their tragedies. Their language is very often noble and sonorous, but the sense either very trifling, or very common. On the contrary, in the ancient tragedeis, and in. deed in those of Corneille and Racine, though the That unexpected break in the line, and turning expressions are very great, it is the thought that the description of his manner of talking into an bears them up and swells them. For my own part, admiration of it, is inexpressibly beautiful, and I prefer a noble sentiment that is depressed with wonderfully suited to the fond character of the homely language, infinitely before a vulgar one that person that speaks it. There is a simplicity in is blown up with all the sound and energy of the words, that outshines the utmost pride of exexpression. Whether this defect in our tragedies pression.
may arise from want of genius, knowledge, or ex- Otway has followed nature in the language of perience in the writers, or from their compliance his tragedy, and therefore shines in the passionate with the vicious taste of their readers, who are parts, more than any of our English poets. As better judges of the language than of the senti-there is something familiar and domestic in the ments, and consequently relish the one more than fable of his tragedy, more than in those of any the other, I cannot determine. But I believe it might other poet, he has little pomp, but great force in rectify the conduct both of the one and of the his expressions. For which reason, though he has other, if the writer laid down the whole contexture admirably succeeded in the tender and melting of his dialogue in plain English, before he turned part of his tragedies, he sometimes falls into too it into blank verse; and if the reader, after the great a familiarity of phrase in those parts, which perusal of a scene, would consider the naked by Aristotle's rule ought to have been raised and thought of every speech in it, when divested of all supported by the dignity of expression. its tragic ornaments. By this means, without be- It has been observed by others, that this poet ing imposed upon by words, we may judge impar- has founded his Tragedy of Venice Preserved on tially of the thought, and consider whether it be so wrong a plot, that the greatest characters in it natural or great enough for the person that utters are those of rebels and traitors. Had the hero of it, whether it deserves to shine in such a blaze of eloquence, or show itself in such a variety of lights as are generally made use of by the writers of our English tragedy.
I must in the next place observe, that when our
his play discovered the same good qualities in the defence of his country, that he showed for its ruin and subversion, the audience could not enough pity and admire him: but as he is now represented, we can only say of him what the Roman historian says
ic to th d. 'T ach las is in dev
3 after 47
of Catiline, that his fall would have been glorious | ander the Great, Theodosius, All for Love, Oedi(si pro patria sic concidisset) had he so fallen in the pus, Oroonoko, Othello, &c. King Lear is an adservice of his country.
N° 40. MONDAY, APRIL 16, 1711.
Ae ne forte putes, me, que facere ipse recusem,
Ilie per extentum funem mihi posse videtur
Ut magus; et mode me Thebis, modo ponit Athenis.
Yet lest you think I rally more than teach,
mirable tragedy of the same kind, as Shakspeare wrote it; but as it is reformed according to the chimerical notion of poetical justice, in my humble opinion it has lost halt its beauty. At the same time I must allow, that there are very noble tragedies, which have been framed upon the other plan, and have ended happily; as indeed most of the good tragedies, which have been written since the starting of the above-mentioned criticism, have taken this turn: as The Mourning Bride, Tamerlane, Ulysses, Phædra and Hippolitus, with most of Mr. Dryden's. I must also allow, that many of Shakspeare's, and several of the celebrated tragedies of antiquity, are cast in the same form. I do not therefore dispute against this way of writing tragedies, but against the criticism that would establish this as the only method; and by that means would very much cramp the English tragedy, and perhaps give a wrong bent to the genius of writers.
The tragi-comedy, which is the product of the English theatre, is one of the most monstrous inventions that ever entered into a poet's thoughts. An author might as well think of weaving the adventures of Eneas and Hudibras into one poem, as of writing such a motley piece of mirth and sorrow. But the absurdity of these performances is so very visible, that I shall not insist upon it.
Tax English writers of tragedy are possessed with sa notion, that when they represent a virtuous or Lennocent person in distress, they ought not to leave him till they have delivered him out of his trou- The same objections which are made to tragistables, or made him triumph over his enemies. This comedy, may in some measure be applied to all error they have been led into by a ridiculous doc- tragedies that have a double plot in them; which trine in modern criticism, that they are obliged to are likewise more frequent upon the English stage an equal distribution of rewards and punishments, than upon any other: for though the grief of the and an impartial execution of poetical justice. audience, in such performances, be not changed Who were the first that established this rule I into another passion, as in tragi-comedies, it is diknow not; but I am sure it has no foundation in verted upon another object, which weakens their nature, in reason, or in the practice of the ancients. concern for the principal action, and breaks the We find that good and evil happen alike to all tide of sorrow, by throwing it into different chanmen on this side the grave; and as the principal nels. This inconvenience, however, may in a great design of tragedy is to raise commiseration and measure be cured, if not wholly removed, by the terror in the minds of the audience, we shall defeat skilful choice of an under-plot, which may bear this great end, if we always make virtue and in-such a near relation to the principal design, as to! hocence happy and successful. Whatever crosses contribute towards the completion of it, and be and disappointments a good man suffers in the concluded by the same catastrophe. body of the tragedy, they will make but a small There is also another particular, which may be impression on our minds, when we know that in reckoned among the blemishes, or rather the false the last act he is to arrive at the end of his wishes beauties of our English tragedy: I mean those and desires. When we see him engaged in the particular speeches, which are commonly known depth of his afflictions, we are apt to comfort our-by the name of Rants. The warm and passionate selves, because we are sure he will find his way parts of a tragedy, are always the most taking with out of them; and that his grief, how great soever the audience; for which reason we often see the it may be at present, will soon terminate in glad-players pronouncing, in all the violence of action, ness. For this reason the ancient writers of tra- several parts of the tragedy which the author writ gedy treated men in their plays, as they are dealt with great temper, and designed that they should with in the world, by making virtue sometimes have been so acted. I have seen Powell very happy and sometimes miserable, as they found it often raise himself a loud clap by this artifice. the fable which they made choice of, or as it The poets that were acquainted with this secret, aight affect their audience in the most agreeable have given frequent occasion for such emotions in ner. Aristotle considers the tragedies that the actor, by adding vehemence to words where were written in either of these kinds, and observes, there was no passion, or inflaming a real passion that those which ended unhappily, had always into fustian. This hath filled the mouths of our pleased the people, and carried away the prize in the public disputes of the stage, from those that ended happily. Terror and commiseration leave a pleasing anguish in the mind; and fix the audience such a serious composure of thought, as is much Tore lasting and delightful than any little transient arts of joy and satisfaction. Accordingly we find, hat more of our English tragedies have succeedI shall here add a remark, which I am afraid our ed, in which the favourites of the audience sink tragic writers may make an ill use of. As our under their calamities, than those in which they heroes are generally lovers, their swelling and blusecover themselves out of them. The best plays of tering upon the stage very much recommends them this kind are The Orphan, Venice Preserved, Alex-to the fair part of their audience. The ladies are
heroes with bombast; and given them such sentiments, as proceed rather from a swelling than a greatness of mind. Unnatural exclamations, curses, vows, blasphemies, a defiance of mankind, and an outraging of the gods, frequently pass upon the audience for towering thoughts, and have accordingly met with infinite applause.