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The petition of the Grave.digger in Hamlet, to certain lady, whom I shall here call by the name command the Pioneers in the expedition of Alexander.
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 were ranged together in a very beautiful order. At the end of the folios (which were finely bound and
A widow gentlewoman, well born both by father and mother's side, being the daughter of Thomas 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.† 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 teasotice to the public, that she hath lately taken a house dishes of all shapes, colours, and sizes, which were ear 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 bards of the loquacious kinds, as parrots, starlings, strokes of sculpture, and stained with the greatest magpice, and others, to imitate human voices in greater variety of dyes. That part of the library which fiction than ever was yet practised. They are not was designed for the reception of plays and bly 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 pretat 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, lions, monkies, mandarines, ether at tea-tables, or visiting.days. Those that have trees, shells, and a thousand other odd figures in gud 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, mething 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 seveMay be taken as half boarders. She teaches such as ral other 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 ac in some measure is owing to their being placed in both to the lady and the scholar, and did not know me next the street, where, to the great offence of at first whether I should fancy myself in a grotto, care and tender ears, they learn ribaldry, obscene or in a library.
, and immodest expressions, from passengers and Upon my looking into the books, I found there people, as also to cry fish and card-matches, with were some few which the lady had bought for her r useless parts of learning to birds who have rich own use, but that most of them had been got tods, she has fitted up proper and neat apartments for gether, either because she had heard them praisin the back of her said house: where she suffers ed, or because she had seen the authors of them. to approach them but herself, and a servant maid Among several that I examined, I very well re8 deaf and dumb, and whom she provided on pur-member these that follow : The to prepare their food, and cleanse their cages; "fond by long experience how hard a thing it is for
to keep silence who have the use of speech, and the angers her scholars are exposed to, by the strong imfrenons that are made by harsh sounds, and vulgar
cts. In short, if they are birds of any parts or caty, she roll undertake to render them so accomplishthe compass of a twelvemonth, that they shall be conversation for such ladies as love to choose their Vede and companions out of this species.
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, trans
lated into English.
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.
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
A set of Elzevirs by the same hand.
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. 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.
Advice to a Daughter.
The New Atalantis, with a Key to it.
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.
No 38. FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 1711.
·Cupias non placuisse nimis.
One would not please too much.
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 an opportunity of observing a great deal of beauty after a bow or two retired. 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 mis lain 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 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 geneinto 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 pro pheasants, 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 When I think how oddly this lady is improved consciousness is what we call affectation. by learning, I look upon her with a mixture of 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
As the love of praise is implanted in our bosoms
hearts are fixed upon the pleasure they have in the consciousness that they are the objects of love and admiration, are ever changing the air of their countenances, and altering the attitude of their bodies, to strike the hearts of their beholders with new sense of their beauty. The dressing part of our sex, whose minds are the same with the sillier part of the other, are exactly in the like uneasy condition to be regarded for a well-tied cravat, an hat cocked with an uncommon briskness, a very wellchosen coat, or other instances of merit, which they are impatient to see unobserved.
This apparent affectation, arising from an illgoverned consciousness, is not so much to be wondered at in such loose and trivial minds as these: but when we see it reign in characters of worth and distinction, it is what you cannot but lament,
It might be borne even here, but it often ascends the pulpit itself; and the declaimer, in that sacred place, is frequently so impertinently witty, speaks of the last day itself with so many quaint phrases, that there is no man who understands raillery, but must resolve to sin no more. Nay, you may behold him sometimes in prayer, for a proper delivery of the great truths he is to utter, humble himself with so very well-turned phrase, and mention his own unworthiness in a way so very becoming, that the air of the pretty gentleman is preserved, under the lowliness of the preacher.
I shall end this with a short letter I writ the other day to a very witty man, overrun with the fault I am speaking of:
ot 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 mb. When you see a man of sense look about unsufferable affectation you are guilty of in all you or applause, and discover an itching inclination to say and do. When I gave you an hint of it, you ecommended; lay traps for a little incense, even asked me whether a man is to be cold to what his rom those whose opinion he values in nothing but friends think of him? No, but praise is not to be s own favour; who is safe against this weakness? the entertainment of every moment. He that hopes raho 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 applause, is to take all possible care to throw would not rather be commended than be praiseif the love of it upon occasions that are not in worthy, contemn little merits; and allow no man selves laudable, but as it appears, we hope for to be so free with you, as to praise you to your praise from them. Of this nature are all graces face. Your vanity by this means will want its men's persons, dress, and bodily deportment, food. At the same time your passion for esteem h will naturally be winning and attractive if will be more fully, gratified; men will praise you think not of them, but lose their force in pro- in their actions; where you now receive one compliment you will then receive twenty civilities. Till then you will never have of either, further than, 'SIR, "Your humble servant,
tion to our endeavour to make them such. When our consciousness turns upon the main deof life, and our thoughts are employed upon chief purpose either in business or pleasure, hall never betray an affectation, for we cannot guilty of it: but when we give the passion for use an unbridled liberty, our pleasure in little ections robs us of what is due to us for great es and worthy qualities. How many excellent cches and honest actions are lost, for want of ng indifferent where we ought? Men are opsed with regard to their way of speaking and ng, instead of having their thoughts bent upon they should do or say; and by that means a capacity for great things, by their fear of g in indifferent things. This, perhaps, cannot lled affectation; but it has some tincture of) least so far as that their fear of erring in a As a perfect tragedy is the noblest production of of no consequence, argues they would be too human nature, so it is capable of giving the mind pleased in performing it. one of the most delightful and most improving en
is only from a thorough disregard to himself tertainments. A virtuous man (says Seneca) strugparticulars, that a man can act with a gling with misfortunes, is such a spectacle as gods le sufficiency: his heart is fixed upon one might look upon with pleasure; and such a pleainview; and he commits no errors, because sure it is which one meets with in the representaits nothing an error but what deviates from tion of a well-written tragedy. Diversions of this tention. kind wear out of our thoughts every thing that is wild havoc affectation makes in that part of mean and little. They cherish and cultivate that world which should be most polite, is visible humanity which is the ornament of our nature. Ever we turn our eyes: it pushes men not only They soften insolence, sooth affliction, and subdue mpertinences in conversation, but also in their the mind to the dispensations of Providence. editated speeches. At the bar it torments the It is no wonder, therefore, that in all the polite , whose business it is to cut off all super-nations of the world, this part of the drama has s in what is spoken before it by the practi-met with public encouragement.
as well as several little pieces of injustice The modern tragedy excels that of Greece and arise from the law itself. I have seen it Rome in the intricacy and disposition of the fable; a man run from the purpose before a judge, but, what a Christian writer would be ashamed to as, when at the bar himself, so close and own, falls infinitely short of it in the moral part of a pleader, that with all the pomp of elo- the performance.
e in his power, he never spoke a word too
This I may show more at large hereafter; and in the mean time, that I may contribute something towards the improvement of the English
* Probably Lord Chanceller Cowper.
N° 39. SATURDAY, APRIL 14, 1711.
Mulia fero, ut placem genus irritabile vatum,
HOR. 2 Ep. ii. 102.
Mueh do I suffer, much, to keep in peace
I shall take notice, in this and in other following | thoughts are great and just, they are often obpapers, 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 dis-pose, which I have never seen quoted. The excourse 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 Ho it, 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:
picy 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 siciles 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 a its 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, our English poets have succeeded much better in where she describes the charms of Alexander's 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 expressions are very great, it is the thought that bears them up and swells them. For my own part,
Since I am upon this subject, I must observe that
'Then he would talk-Good gods! how he would talk!"
That unexpected break in the line, and turning the description of his manner of talking into an 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.
Et tragicus plerumque dolet sermone pedestri:
Ars Poct. ver. 95.
Tragedians too lay by their state to grieve:
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 his play discovered the same good qualities in the eloquence, or show itself in such a variety of lights defence of his country, that he showed for its ruin as are generally made use of by the writers of our and subversion, the audience could not enough pity English tragedy. and admire him: but as he is now represented, we can only say of him what the Roman historian says
I must in the next place observe, that when our
of Catiline, that his fall would have been glorious ander the Great, Theodosius, All for Love, Oedi-
pus, Oroonoko, Othello, &c. King Lear is an ad-
N° 40. MONDAY, APRIL 16, 1711.
Ac ne forte putes, me, quæ facere ipse recusem,
Ut magus; et modo me Thebis, modo penit Athenis.
Yet lest you think I rally more than teach,
Let me for once presume t' instruct the times,
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.
The same objections which are made to tragi-
THE English writers of tragedy are possessed with
There is also another particular, which may be
y of the tragedy, they will make but a small