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purpose of life, what I would propose should be, that we imitated those wise nations wherein every man learns some handicraft-work.-Would it not employ a beau, prettily enough, if, instead of eternally playing with a snuff-box, he spent some part of his time in making one? Such a method as this would very much conduce to the public emolument, by making every man living good for something; for there would then be no one member of human society, but would have some little pretension for some degree in it; like him who came to Will's coffee-house, upon the merit of having writ a posy of a ring. R.
No.44.] Friday, April 20, 1711.
Why thy canoniz'd bones, hearsed in death,
I do not therefore find fault with the arti-
. For the moving of pity, our principle ma-
Tu quid ego, et populus mecum desideret, audi.
Now hear what every auditor expects.
AMONG the several artifices which are put in practice by the poets to fill the minds of an audience with terror, the first place A disconsolate mother, with a child in is due to thunder and lightning, which her hand, has frequently drawn compassion are often made use of at the descending from the audience, and has therefore gained of a god, or the rising of a ghost, at the a place in several tragedies. A modern vanishing of a devil, or at the death of a writer, that observed how this had took in tyrant. I have known a bell introduced other plays, being resolved to double the into several tragedies with good effect; and distress, and melt his audience twice as have seen the whole assembly in a very much as those before him had done, great alarm all the while it has been ring- brought a princess upon the stage with a ing. But there is nothing which delights little boy in one hand, and a girl in the and terrifies our English theatre so much other. This too had a very good effect. A as a ghost, especially when he appears in third poet being resolved to outwrite all his a bloody shirt. A spectre has very often predecessors, a few years ago introduced saved a play, though he has done nothing three children with great success: and, as I but stalked across the stage, or rose through am informed, a young gentleman, who is a cleft of it, and sunk again without speak- fully determined to break the most obduing one word. There may be a proper rate hearts, has a tragedy by him, where the season for these several terrors; and when first person that appears upon the stage is they only come in as aids and assistances an afflicted widow in her mourning weeds, to the poet, they are not only to be excused, with half a dozen fatherless children atbut to be applauded. Thus the sounding tending her, like those that usually hang of the clock in Venice Preserved, makes about the figure of Charity. Thus several the hearts of the whole audience quake; incidents that are beautiful in a good writer, and conveys a stronger terror to the mind become ridiculous by falling into the hands than it is possible for words to do. The ap- of a bad one. pearance of the ghost in Hamlet is a master-piece in its kind, and wrought up with all the circumstances that can create either attention or horror. The mind of the reader is wonderfully prepared for his reception by the discourses that precede it. His dumb behaviour at his first entrance, strikes the imagination very strongly; but every time he enters, he is still more terrifying. Who can read the speech with which young Hamlet accosts him, without trembling.
'Hor. Look, my lord, it comes!
Ham. Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
But among all our methods of moving pity or terror, there is none so absurd and barbarous, and what more exposes us to the contempt and ridicule of our neighbours, than that dreadful butchering of one another, which is very frequent upon the English stage. To delight in seeing men stabbed, poisoned, racked, or impaled, is certainly the sign of a cruel temper: and as this is often practised before the British audience, several French critics, who think these are grateful spectacles to us, take occasion from them to represent us a people that delight in blood. It is indeed very odd to see our stage strewed with carcases in the last scenes of a tragedy; and to observe in the wardrobe of the playhouse several daggers, poniards, wheels, bowls for poison, and many other instruments of
'Nec pueros coram populo Medea trucidet.'
death. Murders and executions are always | before he would despatch him, and by ortransacted behind the scenes in the French dering him to retire into that part of the theatre; which in general is very agree- palace where he had slain his father, able to the manners of a polite and civilized whose murder he would revenge in the people: but as there are no exceptions to very same place where it was committed. this rule on the French stage, it leads them By this means the poet observes that deinto absurdities almost as ridiculous as that cency, which Horace afterwards establishwhich falls under our present censure. Ied by a rule, of forbearing to commit parremember in the famous play of Corneille, ricides or unnatural murders before the written upon the subject of the Horatii audience. and Curiatii; the fierce young hero who had overcome the Curiatii one after another, (instead of being congratulated by his sister for his victory, being upbraided by her for having slain her lover) in the height of his passion and resentment kills her. If The French have, therefore, refined too any thing could extenuate so brutal an ac- much upon Horace's rule, who never detion, it would be the doing of it on a sudden, signed to banish all kinds of death from the before the sentiments of nature, reason, or stage: but only such as had too much hormanhood could take place in him. How-ror in them, and which would have a better ever, to avoid public bloodshed, as soon as effect upon the audience when transacted his passion is wrought to its height, he behind the scenes. I would therefore refollows his sister to the whole length of the commend to my countrymen the practice of stage, and forbears killing her till they are the ancient poets, who were very sparing of both withdrawn behind the scenes. I must their public executions, and rather chose to confess, had he murdered her before the perform them behind the scenes, if it could audience, the indecency might have been be done with as great an effect upon the augreater; but as it is, it appears very unna- dience. At the same time I must observe, tural, and looks like killing in cold blood. that though the devoted persons of the To give my opinion upon this case, the fact tragedy were seldom slain before the auought not to have been represented, but to dience, which has generally something ridihave been told, if there was any occasion culous in it, their bodies were often profor it. duced after their death, which has always in it something melancholy or terrifying; so that the killing on the stage does not seem to have been avoided only as an indecency, but also as an improbability.
'Nec pueros coram populo Medea trucidet;
'Medea must not draw her murd'ring knife,
I hate to see, and never can believe.'-Roscommon.
It may not be unacceptable to the reader to see how Sophocles has conducted a tragedy under the like delicate circumstances. Orestes was in the same condition with Hamlet in Shakspeare, his mother having murdered his father, and taken possession of his kingdom in conspiracy with her adulterer. That young prince, therefore, being determined to revenge his father's death upon those who filled his throne, conveys himself by a beautiful stratagem into his mother's apartment, with a resolution to kill her. But because such a spectacle would have been too shocking to the audience, this dreadful resolution is executed behind the dramatic inventions which are made use I have now gone through the several scenes: the mother is heard calling out to of by the ignorant poets to supply the place her son for mercy; and the son answering of tragedy, and by the skilful to improve her, that she showed no mercy to his father; after which she shrieks out she is it; some of which I could wish entirely rewounded, and by what follows we find that she is slain. I do not remember that in any of our plays there are speeches made behind the scenes, though there are other instances of this nature to be met with in those of the ancients: and I believe my reader will agree with me, that there is something infinitely more affecting in this dreadful dialogue between the mother and her son behind the scenes, than could have been in any thing transacted before the audience. Orestes immediately after meets the usurper at the entrance of his palace; and by a very happy thought of the poet avoids killing him before the audience, by telling him that he should live some time in his present bitterness of soul
jected, and the rest to be used with caution. It would be an endless task to consider comedy in the same light, and to mention the innumerable shifts that small lock in a short coat, and Norris in a long wits put in practice to raise a laugh. Bulone, seldom fail of this effect. In ordinary comedies, a broad and a narrow brimmed the wit of the scene lies in a shoulder belt, hat are different characters. Sometimes lover running about the stage, with his and sometimes in a pair of whiskers. A head peeping out of a barrel, was thought a very good jest in King Charles the Second's time; and invented by one of the
The comedy of The Comical Revenge, or Love in a Tub, by Sir George Etheridge.
The nation is a company of players. THERE is nothing which I desire more than a safe and honourable peace, though at the same time I am very apprehensive of many ill consequences that may attend it. I do not mean in regard to our politics, but to our manners. What an inundation of ribands and brocades will break in upon us? What peals of laughter and impertinence shall we be exposed to? For the prevention of those great evils, I could heartily wish that there was an act of parliament for prohibiting the importation of French fopperies.
which looks immodest in the fair sex, that
Sempronia is at present the most profess-
There is nothing which exposes a woman to greater dangers, than that gayety and airiness of temper, which are natural to most of the sex. It should be therefore the concern of every wise and virtuous woman to keep this sprightliness from degenerating into levity. On the contrary, the whole discourse and behaviour of the French is to make the sex more fantastical, or (as they are pleased to term it) more awakened, than is consistent either with virtue or discretion. To speak loud in public assemblies, to let every one hear you talk of things that should only be mentioned in private, or in whisper, are looked upon as parts of a refined education. At the same time, a blush is unfashionable, and silence more ill-bred than any thing that can be spoken. In short, discretion and modesty, which in all other ages and countries have been regarded as the greatest ornaments of the fair sex, are considered as the ingredients of narrow conversation, and family behaviour.
The female inhabitants of our island have already received very strong impressions from this ludicrous nation, though by the length of the war (as there is no evil which has not some good attending it) they are pretty well worn out and forgotten. I remember the time when some of our wellbred country-women kept their valet de chambre; because, forsooth, a man was much more handy about them than one of their own sex. I myself have seen one of these male Abigails tripping about the room with a looking-glass in his hand, and combing his lady's hair a whole morning together. Whether or no there was any truth in the story of a lady's being got with child by one of these her hand-maids, I cannot tell; but I think at present the whole race of them is extinct in our own country. About the time that several of our sex were taken into this kind of service, the ladies likewise brought up the fashion of receiving visits in their beds. It was then looked upon as a piece of ill-breeding for a woman to refuse to see a man because she was not stirring; and a porter would have Some years ago I was at the tragedy of been thought unfit for his place, that could Macbeth, and unfortunately placed myself have made so awkward an excuse. As I under a woman of quality that is since dead; love to see every thing that is new, I once who as I found by the noise she made was prevailed upon my friend Will Honey- newly returned from France. A little becomb to carry me along with him to one of fore the rising of the curtain, she broke out these travelled ladies, desiring him at the into a loud soliloquy, 'When will the dear same time to present me as a foreigner who could not speak English, that so I might not be obliged to bear a part in the discourse. The lady, though willing to appear undrest, had put on her best looks, and painted herself for our reception. Her hair appeared in a very nice disorder, as the night-gown which was thrown upon her shoulders was ruffled with great care. For my part, I am so shocked with every thing
witches enter?' and immediately upon their
long after, calling out to a young baronet confusion, raving and inconsistency. In by his name, who sat three seats before short, they are my speculations in the me, she asked him whether Macbeth's wife first principles, that (like the world in its was still alive; and before he could give an chaos) are void of all light, distinction, and answer, fell a talking of the ghost of Ban- order. quo. She had by this time formed a little audience to herself, and fixed the attention of all about her. But as I had a mind to hear the play, I got out of the sphere of her impertinence, and planted myself in one of the remotest corners of the pit.
About a week since there happened to me a very odd accident, by reason of one of these my papers of minutes which I had accidentally dropped at Lloyd's coffee-house, where the auctions are usually kept. Before I missed it, there were a cluster of people This pretty childishness of behaviour is who had found it, and were diverting themone of the most refined parts of coquetry, selves with it at one end of the coffee-house. and is not to be attained in perfection by It had raised so much laughter among them ladies that do not travel for their improve- before I had observed what they were ment. A natural and unconstrained beha- about, that I had not the courage to own viour has something in it so agreeable, that it. The boy of the coffee-house, when they it is no wonder to see people endeavouring had done with it, carried it about in his after it. But at the same time it is so very hand, asking every body if they had drophard to hit, when it is not born with us, ped a written paper; but nobody chalthat people often make themselves ridicu- lenging it, he was ordered by those merry lous in attempting it. gentlemen who had perused it, to get up into the auction pulpit, and read it to the whole room, that if any one would own it, they might. The boy accordingly mounted the pulpit, and with a very audible voice read as follows:
A very ingenious French author tells us, that the ladies of the court of France, in his time, thought it ill-breeding, and a kind of female pedantry, to pronounce a hard word right: for which reason they took frequent occasion to use hard words, that they might show a politeness in murdering them. He further adds, that a lady of some quality at court having accidently made use of a hard word in a proper place, and pronounced it right, the whole assembly was out of countenance for her.
Sir Roger de Coverley's country-seatYes, for I hate long speeches-Query, if a good Christian may be a conjurer-Childermas-day, saltseller, house-dog, screechowl, cricket-Mr. Thomas Inkle of LonI must however be so just as to own that don, in the good ship called the Achilles. there are many ladies who have travelled Yarico-Egrescitque medendo-Ghosts several thousands of miles without being The Lady's Library-Lion by trade a taithe worse for it, and have brought home lor-Dromedary called Bucephalus-Equiwith them all the modesty, discretion, and page the lady's summum bonum-Charles good sense, that they went abroad with. Lillie to be taken notice of-Short face a As on the contrary, there are great num-relief to envy--Redundancies in the three bers of travelled ladies who have lived all professions-King Latinus a recruit-Jew their days within the smoke of London. I devouring a ham of bacon-Westminsterhave known a woman that never was out of abbey-Grand Cairo-Procrastinationthe parish of St. James's betray as many foreign fopperies in her carriage, as she could have gleaned up in half the countries of Europe.
Monday, April 23, 1711. Non bene junctarum discordia semina rerum.
Ovid, Met. Lib. i. ver. 8.
The jarring seeds of ill-concerted things.
April fools-Blue boars, red lions, hogs in armour-Enter a King and two Fiddlers solus-Admission into the Ugly Club Beauty how improveable-Families of true and false humour-The parrot's schoolmistress-Face half Pict half British-No man to be a hero of a tragedy under six feet-Club of sighers-Letters from flowerpots, elbow-chairs, tapestry, figures, lion, thunder-The bell rings to the puppetshow-Old woman with a beard married WHEN I want materials for this paper, to a smock-faced boy-My next coat to be it is my custom to go abroad in quest of turned up with blue-Fable of tongs and game; and when I meet any proper sub-gridiron--Flower dyers The Soldier's ject, I take the first opportunity of setting prayer-Thank ye for nothing, says the down a hint upon paper. At the same galley-pot-Pactolus in stockings with goltime I look into the letters of my corres- den clocks to them-Bamboos, cudgels, pondents, and if I find any thing suggested drum-sticks-Slip of my lady's eldest in them that may afford matter of specula-daughter-The black mare with a star in tion, I likewise enter a minute of it in my her forehead-The barber's pole-Will collection of materials. By this means I Honeycomb's coat-pocket-Caesar's beha frequently carry about me a whole sheet-viour and my own in parallel circumstances ful of hints, that would look like a rhap--Poem in patch-work-Nulli gravis est sody of nonsense to any body but myself. percussus Achilles-The female conventi There is nothing in them but obscurity and cler-The ogle-master.
The reading of this paper made the ner, unless when the preacher is to be at it. whole coffee-house very merry; some of With him come a tribe, all brothers and them concluded it was written by a mad- sisters it seems; while others really such, man; and others by somebody that had been are deemed no relations. If at any time I taking notes out of the Spectator. One have her company alone, she is a mere who had the appearance of a very substan- sermon pop-gun, repeating and dischargtial citizen, told us, with several political ing texts, proofs, and applications, so perwinks and nods, that he wished there was petually, that however weary I may go to no more in the paper than was expressed bed, the noise in my head will not let me in it: that for his part, he looked upon the sleep till towards morning. The misery dromedary, the gridiron, and the barber's of my case, and great numbers of such sufpole to signify something more than what ferers, plead your pity and speedy relief; was usually meant by those words: and that otherwise must expect, in a little time, to he thought the coffee-man could not do be lectured, preached, and prayed into better than to carry the paper to one of want, unless the happiness of being sooner the secretaries of state. He further added, talked to death prevent it. I am, &c. that he did not like the name of the out'R. G.' landish man with the golden clock in his stockings. A young Oxford scholar, who
chanced to be with his uncle at the coffeehouse, discovered to us who this Pactolus was; and by that means turned the whole scheme of this worthy citizen into ridicule. While they were making their several conjectures upon this innocent paper, I reached out my arm to the boy as he was coming out of the pulpit, to give it me; which he did accordingly. This drew the eyes of the whole company upon me; but after having cast a cursory glance over it, and shook my head twice or thrice at the reading of 'it, I twisted it into a kind of match, and lighted my pipe with it. My profound silence, together with the steadiness of my countenance, and the gravity of my behaviour during this whole transaction, raised a very loud laugh on all sides of me; but as I had escaped all suspicion of being the author, I was very well satisfied, and applying myself to my pipe and the Postman, took no further notice of any thing that had passed about me.
master, runs thus:
'MR. SPECTATOR,---I am an Irish gen-
you on any occasion. In the mean time
beg you will publish the substance of this letter in an advertisement, and you will very much oblige, Yours, &c. C.
My reader will find, that I have already No. 47.1 Tuesday, April 24, 1711. made use of above half the contents of the Ride si sapisforegoing paper: and will easily suppose, Laugh, if you are wise. that those subjects which are yet untouch- MR. HOBBS,* in his Discourse of Human ed, were such provisions as I had made for Nature, which, in my humble opinion, is his future entertainment. But as I have much the best of all his works, after some been unluckily prevented by this accident, very curious observations upon laughter, I shall only give him the letters which re- concludes thus: The passion of laughter lated to the two last hints. The first of is nothing else but sudden glory arising them I should not have published, were I from some sudden conception of some eminot informed that there is many a hus-nency in ourselves, by comparison with band who suffers very much in his private the infirmity of others, or with our own affairs by the indiscreet zeal of such a part- formerly; for men laugh at the follies of ner as is hereafter mentioned; to whom I themselves past, when they come suddenly may apply the barbarous inscription quoted to remembrance, except they bring with by the Bishop of Salisbury in his travels; them any present dishonour.' Dum nimis pia est facta est impia: Through too much piety she became impious.'
'SIR,-I am one of those unhappy men that are plagued with a gospel-gossip, so common among dissenters (especially friends.) Lectures in the morning, churchmeetings at noon, and preparation sermons at night, take up so much of her time, it is very rare she knows what we have for din
According to this author, therefore, when we hear a man laugh excessively, instead of saying he is very merry, we ought to tell him he is very proud. And indeed, if we
* Thomas Hobbs of Malmsbury. "He is commonly and a dogmatist in philosophy; but he was a dog. represented," says Granger, "as a sceptic in religion, matist in both. The main principles of his Leviathan are as little founded in moral or evangelical truth, as in mathematical demonstration." He died in 1679, at the rules he has laid down for squaring the circle are the advanced age of 92.