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the world grow pale, and tremble with party rage. figure of the doctor, who was placed with great
* Dr. Sacheverell is understood to be the person really alluded to.
N° 58. MONDAY, MAY 7, 1711.
of the 129 338 #77
There is one consideration which I would earn-
In this, and one or two following papers, I shall of th
trace out the history of false wit, and distinguish
husband) he should be made as uneasy by a hand-the several kinds of it as they have prevailed in s
There were several satires and panegyrics handed
ed in th
(for indeed she was very pretty), and told her that long exploded out of the commonwealth of letters. ban
one of her patches was dropping off. She imme.
diately adjusted it, and looking a little seriously, about in acrostic, by which means some of the most
The first species of false wit which I have met
Ut pictura, poesis erit ;-
I was cast.
produced several pieces which have lived very mistaken, in the translation of Du Bartas. I do hear as long as the Iliad itself: I mean thoses hort not remember any other kind of work among the poems printed among the minor Greek poets, which moderns which more resembles the performances I resemble the figure of an egg, a pair of wings, an have mentioned, than that famous picture of King ax, a shepherd's pipe, and an altar. Charles the First, which has the whole book of psalms written in the lines of the face, and the hair of the head. When I was last at Oxford I perused one of the whiskers, and was reading the other,
As for the first, it is a little oval poem, and may not improperly be called a scholar's egg. I would endeavour to hatch it, or, in more intelligible language, to translate it into English, did not I find but could not go so far in it as I would have done, the interpretation of it very difficult; for the by reason of the impatience of my friends and thor seems to have been more intent upon the fellow-travellers, who all of them pressed to see figure of his poem than upon the sense of it. such a piece of curiosity. I have since heard, that The pair of wings consist of twelve verses, or there is now an eminent writing-master in town, Father feathers, every verse decreasing gradually who has transcribed all the Old Testament in a in its measure according to its situation in the full-bottomed periwig; and if the fashion should wing. The subject of it (as in the rest of the introduce the thick kind of wigs, which were in ems which follow) bears some remote affinity vogue some few years ago, he promises to add two with the figure, for it describes a god of love, who or three supernumerary locks that should contain salways painted with wings. all the Apocrypha. He designed this wig origiThe ax methinks would have been a good figure nally for King William, having disposed of the era lampoon, had the edge of it consisted of the two books of Kings in the two forks of the forest satirical parts of the work; but as it is in the top; but that glorious monarch dying before the ginal, I take it to have been nothing else but wig was finished, there is a space left in it for the he posy of an ax which was consecrated to Mi-face of any one that has a mind to purchase it. erva, and was thought to have been the same But to return to our ancient poems in picture. at Epeus made use of in the building of the I would humbly propose, for the benefit of our rojan horse; which is a hint I shall leave to the modern smatterers in poetry, that they would imionsideration of the critics. I am apt to think tate their brethren among the ancients in those inat the posy was written originally upon the ax, genious devices. I have communicated this thought ke those which our modern cutlers inscribe upon to a young poetical lover of my acquaintance, who eir knives: and that therefore the posy still re- intends to present his mistress with a copy of verses airs in its ancient shape, though the ax itself made in the shape of her fan; and, if he tells me true, has already finished the three first sticks of it. He has likewise promised me to get the measure of his mistress's marriage-finger, with a design
The shepherd's pipe may be said to be full of sic, for it is composed of nine different kinds of
rse, which by their several lengths resemble the to make a posy in the fashion of a ring, which shall exactly fit it. It is so very easy to enlarge upon a good bint, that I do not question but my ingenious readers will apply what I have said to many other particulars: and that we shall see the town filled in a very little time with poetical tippets, handkerchiefs, snuff-boxes, and the like female ornaments. I shall therefore conclude with
he stops of the old musical instrument, that is ewise the subject of the poem. The altar is inscribed with the epitaph of Troilus son of Hecuba; which, by the way, makes me eve, that these false pieces of wit are much re ancient than the authors to whom they are erally ascribed; at least I will never be perded, that so fine a writer as Theocritus could a word of advice to those admirable English aue been the author of any such simple works. thors who call themselves Pindaric writers, that was impossible for a man to succeed in these they would apply themselves to this kind of wit formances who was not a kind of painter, or without loss of time, as being provided better than ast a designer. He was first of all to draw any other poets with verses of all sizes and dioutline of the subject which he intended to mensions. eupon, and afterwards conform the descripto the figure of his subject. The poetry was ontract or dilate itself according to the mould hich it was cast. In a word, the verses were e cramped or extended to the dimensions of Frame that was prepared for them; and to
N° 59. TUESDAY, MAY 8, 1711.
go the fate of those persons whom the tyrant rustes used to lodge in his iron bed; if they
Operose nihil ugunt.
= too short, he stretched them on a rack; and THERE is nothing more certain than that every
are apt to decry the writings of a polite author, as flash and froth, they all of them show, upon occasion, that they would spare no pains to arrive at the character of those whom they seem to despise. For this reason we often find them endeavouring at works of fancy, which cost them infinite pangs in the production. The truth of it is, a man had better be a galley-slave than a wit, were one to gain that title by those elaborate trifles which have been the inventions of such authors as were often masters of great learning, but no genius.
In my last paper I mentioned some of these false wits among the ancients, and in this shall give
Dryden hints at this obsolete kind of wit e of the following verses in his Mac Flecno; an English reader cannot understand, who not know that there are those little poems =mentioned in the shape of wings and altars:
Choose for thy command
me peaceful province in Acrostic Land;
s fashion of false wit was revived by several of the last age, and in particular may be met mong Mr. Herbert's poems; and if I am not
the reader two or three other species of them, of this nature, I shall produce the device of one
I find likewise among the ancients that inge-of those learned languages. Hudibras, in ridicule
He rag'd, and kept as heavy a coil as
For black Des that p
sto e of the Lavy
N° 60. WEDNESDAY, MAY 9, 1711.
senses, which indeed had been very much impaired by that continual application he had given to his anagram.
The acrostic was probably invented about the same time with the anagram, though it is impossible to decide whether the inventor of the one or the other were the greater blockhead. The simple acrostic is nothing but the name or title of a person, or thing, made out of the initial letters of the manner of the Chinese, in a perpendicular line. several verses, and by that means written, after But besides these there are compound acrostics, when the principal letters stand two or three deep.
SEVERAL kinds of false wit that vanished in the refined ages of the world, discovered themselves again in the times of monkish-ignorance.
As the monks were the masters of all that little I have seen some of them where the verses have learning which was then extant, and had their not only been edged by a name at each extrewhole lives entirely disengaged from business, it is mity, but have had the same name running down Go wonder that several of them, who wanted ge-like a scam through the middle of the poem. us for higher performances, employed many hours in the composition of such tricks in writing, as and acrostics, which is commonly called a chronoThere is another near relation of the anagrams required much time and little capacity. I have gram. This kind of wit appears very often on scen half the Eneid turned into Latin rhymes by many modern medals, especially those of Germany, one of the beaux esprits of that dark age; who when they represent in the inscription the year ays in his preface to it, that the Eneid wanted in which they were coined. Thus we see on a othing but the sweets of rhyme to make it the medal of Gustavus Adolphus the following words, rost perfect work in its kind. I have likewise CanISTVS DUX ERGO TRIVMPHVS. If you take een an hymn in hexameters to the Virgin Mary, the pains to pick the figures out of the several which filled a whole book, though it consisted but words, and range them in their proper order, you f the eight following words: will find they amount to MDCXXVII, or 1627, the year in which the medal was stamped: for as some of the letters distinguish themselves from the The poet rung the changes upon these eight several sidered in a double capacity, both as letters and rest, and overtop their fellows, they are to be conords, and by that means made his verses almost as figures. Your laborious German wits will turn numerous as the virtues and the stars which they over a whole dictionary for one of these ingenious lebrated. It is no wonder that men who had so devices. A man would think they were searching ich time upon their hands did not only restore after an apt classical term, but instead of that they the antiquated pieces of false wit, but enriched are looking out a word that has an L, an M, or a world with inventions of their own. It was to D in it. When therefore we meet with any of age these inscriptions, we are not so much to look in them for the thought, as for the year of the Lord. The bouts-rimez were the favourites of the
Hoc est quod palles? Cur quis non prandeat, hoc est ?
Is it for this you gain those meagre looks,
Tet, tibi, sunt, Virgo, dotes, quot, sidera, cœlo.'
that we owe the production of anagrams, ch is nothing else but a transmutation of one d into another, or the turning of the same set etters into different words: which may change French nation for a whole age together, and that it into day, or black into white, if Chance, who at a time when it abounded in wit and learning. The goddess that presides over these sorts of They were a list of words that rhyme to one another, position, shall so direct. I remember a witty drawn up by another hand, and given to a poet, who wor, in allusion to this kind of writing, calls his was to make a poem to the rhymes in the same orwho (it seems) was distorted, and had his der that they were placed upon the list; the more -s set in places that did not properly belong to uncommon the rhymes were, the more extraordi'the anagram of a man.' nary was the genius of the poet that could accomhen the anagrammatist takes a name to work modate his verses to them. I do not know any =, he considers it at first as a mine not broken greater instance of the decay of wit and learning hich will not show the treasure it contains, among the French (which generally follows the e shall have spent many hours in the search of declension of empire) than the endeavouring to or it is his business to find out one word that restore this foolish kind of wit. If the reader will als itself in another, and to examine the be at the trouble to see examples of it, let him s in all the variety of stations in which they look into the new Mercure Gallant; where the ossibly be ranged. I have heard of a gentle-author every month gives a list of rhymes to be who, when this kind of wit was in fashion, filled up by the ingenious, in order to be commuvoured to gain his mistress's heart by it. She nicated to the public in the Mercure for the suce of the finest women of her age, and known ceeding month. That for the month of November name of the Lady Mary Boon. The lover last, which now lies before me, is as follows: ing able to make any thing of Mary, by liberties indulged to this kind of writing, ted it into Moll; and after having shut himfor half a year, with indefatigable industry ed an anagram. Upon the presenting it to tress, who was a little vexed in her heart to self degraded into Moll Boon, she told him, infinite surprise, that he had mistaken her e, for that it was not Boon, but Bohun.
6- Ibi omnis Effusus labor
One would be amazed to see so learned a man as er was thunder-struck with his misfortune, Menage talking seriously on this kind of trifle in that in a little time after he lost his the following passage:
'Monsieur de la Chambre has told me, that he never knew what he was going to write when he took his pen into his hand; but that one sentence always produced another. For my own part, I never knew what I should write next when I was making verses. In the first place I got all my rhymes together, and was afterwards perhaps three or four months in filling them up. I one day rhetoric, describes two or three kinds of puns, which showed Monsieur Gombaud a composition of this he calls paragrams, among the beauties of good nature, in which, among others, I had made use writing, and produces instances of them out of some of the four following rhymes, Amaryllis, Phyllis, of the greatest authors in the Greek tongue. CiMarne, Arne; desiring him to give me his opinion of cero has sprinkled several of his works with puns, it. He told me immediately, that my verses were and in his book where he lays down the rules of good for nothing. And upon my asking his rea-oratory, quotes abundance of sayings as pieces of son, he said, because the rhymes are too com-wit, which also upon examination prove arrant mon; and for that reason easy to be put into verse. puns. But the age in which the pun chiefly flou "Marry," says I, "if it be so, I am very well rished, was in the reign of king James the First. rewarded for all the pains I have been at." But That learned monarch was himself a tolerable punby Monsieur Gombaud's leave, notwithstanding the ster, and made very few bishops or privy-counsel severity of the criticism, the verses were good.' lors that had not some time or other signalized Vid. Menagiana. Thus far the learned Menage, themselves by a clinch, or a conundrum. It was whom I have translated word for word. therefore in this age that the pun appeared with pomp and dignity. It had before been admitted into merry speeches and ludicrous ompositions, but was now delivered with great gravity from the pulpit, or pronounced in the most solemn manner at the council-table. The greatest authors, in their most serious works, made frequent use of puns. The sermons of Bishop Andrews, and the tragedies of Shakspeare, are full of them. The sinner was punned into repentance by the former, as in the latter nothing is more usual than to see a hero weeping and quibbling for a dozen lines together.
The first occasion of these bouts-rimez made them in some manner excusable, as they were tasks which the French ladies used to impose on their lovers. But when a grave author, like him, above mentioned, tasked himself, could there be any thing more ridiculous? Or would not one be apt to believe that the author played booty, and did not make his list of rhymes till he had finished his poem?
I shall only add, that this piece of false wit has been finely ridiculed by Monsieur Sarasin, in a poem entitled, La Défaite des Bouts-Rimez, The Rout of the Bouts-Rimez.
I must add to these great authorities, which seem to have given a kind of sanction to this piece of false wit, that all the writers of rhetoric have treated of puming with very great respect, and divided the several kinds of it into hard names,
I must subjoin to this last kind of wit the double rhymes, which are used in doggerel poetry, and generally applauded by ignorant readers. If the thought of the couplet in such compositions is that are reckoned among the figures of speech, good, the rhyme adds little to it; and if bad, it and recommended as ornaments in discourse. will not be in the power of the rhyme to recom-remember a country schoolmaster of my acquaintmend it. I am afraid that great numbers of those ance told me once, that he had been in company who admire the incomparable Hudibras, do it more with a gentleman whom he looked upon to be the on account of these doggerel rhymes than of the greatest paragrammatist among the moderns. Upon parts that really deserve admiration. I am sure inquiry, I found my learned friend had dined that I have heard the day with Mr. Swan, the famous punster; and desiring him to give me some account of Mr. Swan's conversation, he told me that he generally talked in the Paranomasia, that he sometimes gave into the Ploce, but that in his humble opinion, he shined most in the Antanaclasis.
Pulpit, drum ecclesiastic,
Was beat with fist, instead of a stick;'
"There was an ancient sage philosopher Who had read Alexander Ross over.' more frequently quoted, than the finest pieces of wit in the whole poem.
N° 61. THURSDAY, MAY 10, 1711.
Non equidem hoc studeo, bullatis ut mihi nugis,
1 must not here omit, that a famous university of this land was formerly very much infested with puns; but whether or no this might not arise from the fens and marshes in which it was situated, and which are now drained, I must leave to the deter. mination of more skilful naturalists.
After this short history of punning, one would wonder how it should be so entirely banished out of the learned world as it is at present, especially since it had found a place in the writings of the most ancient polite authors. To account for this we must consider, that the first race of authors, who were the great heroes in writing, were destitute of all rules and arts of criticism; and for that reason, though they excel later writers in great
THERE is no kind of false wit which has been so re-ness of genius, they fall short of them in accuracy commended by the practice of all ages, as that and correctness. The moderns cannot reach their which consists in a jingle of words, and is compre- beauties, but can avoid their imperfections. When hended under the general name of punning. It is the world was furnished with these authors of the indeed impossible to kill a weed, which the soil has first eminence, there grew up another set of wri a natural disposition to produce. The seeds of pun-ters, who gained themselves a reputation by the ning are in the minds of all men; and though they remarks which they made on the works of those may be subdued by reason, reflection, and good who preceded them. It was one of the employ.
"Tis not indeed my talent to engage In lofty trifles, or to swell my page With wind and noise.
sense, they will be very apt to shoot up in the
Aristotle, in the eleventh chapter of his book of
PERS. Sat. v. 19.