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in matters of this nature; but certainly, if it | cause it doth raise the mind, and exalt the ever exerts itself in affairs of opinion and spe-spirit with high raptures, by proportioning the culation, it ought to do it on such shallow shows of things to the desires of the mind, and despicable pretenders to knowledge, who and not submitting the mind to things, as endeavour to give man dark and uncomfortable reason and history do. And by these allureprospects of his being, and destroy those prin- ments and congruities, whereby it cherisheth ciples which are the support, happiness, and the soul of man, joined also with consort of glory of all public societies, as well as private music, whereby it may more sweetly insinuate itself, hath won such access, that it hath been in estimation even in rude times and barbarous nations, when other learning stood excluded.';
I think it is one of Pythagoras's golden sayings, That a man should take care above all things to have a due respect for himself.' And it is certain, that this licentious sort of authors, who are for depreciating mankind, endeavour to disappoint and undo what the most refined spirits have been labouring to advance since the beginning of the world. The very design of dress, good-breeding, outward ornaments, and ceremony, were to lift up human nature, and set it off to an advantage. Architecture, No. 109.] Tuesday, December 20, 1709. painting, and statuary, were invented with the same design: as, indeed, every art and science contributes to the embellishment of life, and to the wearing off and throwing into shades the mean and low parts of our nature. Poetry carries on this great end more than all the rest, as may be seen in the following passage, taken out of sir Francis Bacon's Advancement of Learning,' which gives a truer and better account of this art than all the volumes that were ever written upon it.
Perditur hæc inter miseris lux
Hor. 2. Sat. vi. 59. in this giddy, busy maze, I lose the sun-shine of my days. Sheer-lane, December 19. THERE has not some years been such a tumult in our neighbourhood as this evening about six. At the lower end of the lane the word was given, that there was a great funeral coming by. The next moment came forward, and in a very hasty, instead of a solemn manner, Poetry, especially heroical, seems to be a long train of lights, when at last a footman, raised altogether from a noble foundation, in very high youth and health, with all his which makes much for the dignity of man's force, ran through the whole art of beating nature. For seeing this sensible world is in the door of the house next to me, and ended dignity inferior to the soul of man, poesy seems his rattle with the true finishing rap. This to endow human nature with that which his- did not only bring one to the door at which tory denies; and to give satisfaction to the he knocked, but to that of every one in the mind, with at least the shadow of things, where lane in an instant. Among the rest, my counthe substance cannot be had. For, if the matter try maid took the alarm, and immediately be thoroughly considered, a strong argument running to me, told me, there was a fine, may be drawn from poesy, that a more stately fine lady, who had three men with burial torches greatness of things, a more perfect order, and making way before her, carried by two men a more beautiful variety, delights the soul of upon poles, with looking-glasses on each side man, that any way can be found in nature of her, and one glass also before, she herself since the fall. Wherefore, seeing the acts and appearing the prettiest that ever was.' The events which are the subjects of true history, girl was going on in her story, when the lady are not of that amplitude as to content the was come to my door in her chair, having mismind of man, poesy is ready at hand to feign taken the house. As soon as she entered I saw acts more heroical. Because true history re- she was Mr. Isaac's scholar, by her speaking ports the successes of business not proportion-air, and the becoming stop she made when able to the merit of virtues and vices, poesy she began her apology. You will be surprised, corrects it, and presents events and fortunes sir,' said she, 'that I take this liberty, who am according to desert, and according to the law utterly a stranger to you; besides that it may of providence: because true history, through be thought an indecorum that I visit a man. the frequent satiety and similitude of things, She made here a pretty hesitation, and held works a distaste and misprision in the mind her fan to her face; then, as if recovering of man; poesy cheereth and refresheth the her resolution, she proceeded-' But I think soul, chaunting things rare and various, and full you have said, that men of your age are of no of vicissitudes. So as poesy serveth and con- sex; therefore, I may be as free with you as ferreth to delectation, magnanimity, and mo- one of my own.' The lady did me the honour rality; and, therefore, it may seem deservedly to consult me un some particular matters, to have some participation of divineness, be- which I am not at liberty to report. But, be
But there is nothing which favours and falls in with this natural greatness and dignity of human nature so much as religion, which does not only promise the entire refinement of the mind, but the glorifying of the body, and the immortality of both.
fore she took her leave, she produced a long list of names, which she looked upon, to know whither she was to go next. I must confess, I could hardly forbear discovering to her, immediately, that I secretly laughed at the fantastical regularity she observed in throwing away her time; but I seemed to indulge her in it, out of a curiosity to hear her own sense of her way of life. Mr. Bickerstaff,' said she, you cannot imagine how much you are obliged to me, in staying thus long with you, having so many visits to make; and, indeed, if I had not hopes that a third part of those I am going to will be abroad, I should be unable to despatch them this evening.'-' Madam,' said I, are you in all this haste and perplexity, and only going to such as you have not a mind to see?'
Yes, sir,' said she, 'I have several now with whom I keep a constant correspondence, and return visit for visit punctually every week, and yet we have not seen each other since last November was twelvemonth.'
the ladies within the walls, to own, that they are much more exact in their correspondence. The lady I was going to mention as an example has always the second apprentice out of the counting-house for her own use on her visitingday, and he sets down very methodically all the visits which are made her. I remember very well, that on the first of Jauuary last, when she made up her account for the year 1708, it stood thus:
She went on with a very good air, and fixing her eyes on her list, told me,' she was obliged to ride about three miles and a half before she arrived at her own house.' I asked' after what manner this list was taken, whether the persons writ their names to her, and desired that favour, or how she knew she was not cheated in her muster-roll?'-'The method we take,' says she,' is, that the porter or servant who comes to the door, writes down all the names who come to see us, and all such are entitled to a return of their visit.'-' But,' said I,' madam, I presume those who are searching for each other, and know one another by messages, may be understood as candidates only for each other's favour; and that, after so many how do-ye-does, you proceed to visit or not, as you like the run of each other's reputation or fortune. You understand it aright,' said she; ' and we become friends, as soon as we are convinced that our dislike to each other may be of any consequence: for, to tell you truly,' said she, for it is in vain to hide any thing from a man of your penetration, general visits are not made out of good-will, but for fear of illwill. Punctuality in this case is often a suspicious circumstance; and there is nothing so common as to have a lady say, I hope she has heard nothing of what I said of her, that she grows so great with me!" But, indeed, my porter is so dull and negligent, that I fear he has not put down half the people I owe visits to.'- Madam,' said I, 'methinks it would be very proper if your gentleman-usher or groom of the chamber were alwa to keep an account, by way of debtor and creditor. I know a city lady who uses that method, which I think very laudable; for though you may possibly, at the court end of the town, receive at the door, and light up better than within Templebar, yet I must do that justice to my friends,
By eleven hun
dred and nine 1109
Due to balance 595
This gentlewoman is a woman of great economy, and was not afraid to go to the bottom of her affairs; and, therefore, ordere her apprentice to give her credit for my lady Easy's impertinent visits upon wrong days, and deduct only twelve per cent. He had orders also to subtract one and a half from the whole of such as she had denied herself to before she kept a day; and after taking those proper articles of credit on her side, she was in arrear but five hundred. She ordered her husband to buy in a couple of fresh coachhorses; and with no other loss than the death of two footmen, and a church-yard cough brought upon her coachman, she was clear in the world on the tenth of February last, and keeps so before-hand, that she pays every body their own, and yet makes daily new acquaintances.'
I know not whether this agreeable visitant was fired with the example of the lady I told her of, but she immediately vanished out of my sight, it being, it seems, as necessary a point of good-breeding, to go off as if you stole something out of the house, as it is to enter as if you came to fire it. I do not know one thing that contributes so much to the lessening the esteem men of sense have to the fair sex, as this article of visits. A young lady cannot be married, but all impertinents in town must be beating the tattoo from one quarter of the town to the other, to show they know what passes. If a man of honour should once in an age marry a woman of merit for her intrinsic value, the envious things are all in motion in an instant to make it known to the sisterhooa as an indiscretion, and publish to the tow how many pounds he might have had to have been troubled with one of them. After they are tired with that, the next thing is, to make their compliments to the married couple and their relations. They are equally busy at a funeral, and the death of a person of quality is
always attended with the murder of several sets of coach-horses and chairmen. In both cases, the visitants are wholly unaffected, either with joy or sorrow; for which reason, their congratulations and condolences are equally words of course; and one would be thought wonderfully ill-bred, that should build upon such expressions as encouragements to expect from them any instance of friendship.
Thus are the true causes of living, and the solid pleasures in life, lost in show, imposture, and impertinence. As for my part, I think most of the misfortunes in families arise from the trifling way the women have in spending their time, and gratifying only their eyes and ears, instead of their reason and understanding. A fine young woman, bred under a visiting mother, knows all that is possible for her to be acquainted with by report, and sees the virtuous and the vicious used so indifferently, that the fears she is born with are abated, and desires indulged, in proportion to her love of that light and trifling conversation. I know I talk like an old man; but I must go on to say, that I think the general reception of mixed company, and the pretty fellows that are admitted at those assemblies, give a young woman so false an idea of life, that she is generally bred up with a scorn of that sort of merit in a man, which only can make her happy in marriage; and the wretch, to whose lot she falls, very often receives in his arms a coquette, with the refuse of a heart long before given away to a coxcomb.
Having received from the society of holders sundry complaints of the obstinate and refractory behaviour of several dead persons, who have been guilty of very great outrages and disorders, and by that means elapsed the proper time of their interment; and having, on the other hand, received many appeals from the aforesaid dead persons, wherein they desire to be heard before such their interment; I have set apart Wednesday, the twenty-first instant, as an extraordinary court-day for the hearing of both parties. therefore, any one can allege why they, or any of their acquaintance, should or should not be buried, I desire they may be ready with their witnesses at that time, or that they will for ever after hold their tongues.
N. B. This is the last hearing on this subject.
I looked upon the maid with great humaup-nity, and desired her to make answer to what was said against her. She said, 'It was indeed true, that she had practised all the arts and means she could, to dispose of herself happily in marriage, but thought she did not come under the censure expressed in my writings for the same; and humbly hoped I would not condemn her for the ignorance of her accusers, who, according to their own words, had rather represented her killing, than dead.' She further alleged, That the expressions mentioned in the papers written to her were become mere words, and that she had been always ready to marry any of those who said they died for her; but that they made their escape as soon as they found themselves pitied or believed.' She ended her discourse, by desiring I would for the future settle the meaning of the words I die,' in letters of love.
No. 110.] Thursday, December 22, 1709.
As soon as I had placed myself in my chair of judicature, I ordered my clerk, Mr. Lillie, to read to the assembly, who were gathered
together according to notice, a certain decla ration, by way of charge, to open the purpose of my session, which tended only to this explanation, that as other courts were often called to demand the execution of persons dead in law; so this was held to give the last orders relating to those who are dead in reason. The solicitor of the new company of upholders near the Hay-market appeared in behalf of that useful society, and brought in an accusation of a young woman, who herself stood at the bar before me. Mr. Lillie read her indictment, which was in substance, That, whereas, Mrs. Rebecca Pindust, of the parish of Saint Martin-in-the-Fields, had, by the use of one instrument called a looking-glass, and by the further use of certain attire, made either of cambric, muslin, or other linen wares, upon her head, attained to such an evil art and magical force in the motion of her eyes and turn of her countenance, that she, the said Rebecca, had put to death several young men of the said parish; and that the said young men had acknowledged in certain papers, commonly called love letters, which were produced in court, gilded on the edges, and sealed with a particular wax, with certain amorous and enchanting words wrought upon the said seals, that they died for the said Rebecca: and, whereas the said Rebecca persisted in the said evil practice; this way of life the said society construed to be, according to former edicts, a state of death, and demanded an order for the interment of the said Rebecca.'
It happened, that the very next who was
There were still great multitudes to be ex
The next who appeared was a hale old fellow of sixty. He was brought in by his relations, who desired leave to bury him. Upon requiring a distinct account of the prisoner, a credible witness deposed, that he always rose at ten of the clock, played with his cat until twelve, smoaked tobacco until one, was at dinner until two, then took another pipe, played at back-amined; but, finding it very late, I adjourned gammon until six, talked of one madam Fran- the court, not without the secret pleasure that ces, an old mistress of his, until eight, repeated I had done my duty, and furnished out a the same account at the tavern until ten, then handsome execution. returned home, took the other pipe, and then to bed.' I asked him, 'what he had to say for himself?'-' As to what,' said he,' they men. tion concerning Madam Frances
They rose at the same hour: while the old mau was playing with his cat, the young one wa let-looking out of his window; while the old maɛ was smoking his pipe, the young man was rubbing his teeth; while one was at dinner, the other was dressing; while one was at back-gammon, the other was at dinner; while the old fellow was talking of madam Frances, the young one was either at play, or toasting women whom he never conversed with. The only difference was, that the young man had never been good for any thing; the old man, a man of worth before he knew madam Frances. Upon the whole, I ordered them to be both interred together, with inscriptions proper to their characters, signifying, that the old man died in the year 1689, and was buried in the year 1709; and over the young one it was said, that he departed this world in the twentyfifth year of his death.
The next class of criminals were authors in prose and verse. Those of them who had produced any still-born work were immediately dismissed to their burial, and were followed by others, who, notwithstanding some sprightly issue in their life-time, had given proofs of their death by some posthumous children that bore no resemblance to their elder brethren. As for those who were the fathers of a mixed progeny, provided always they could prove the last to be a live child, they escaped with life, but not without loss of limbs; for, in this case, I was satisfied with amputation of the parts which were mortified.
I did not care for hearing the Canterbury tale, and, therefore, thought myself seasonably interrupted by a young gentleman, who appeared in the behalf of the old man, and prayed an arrest of judgment; for that he, the said young man, held certain lands by his, the said old man's, life.' Upon this, the solicitor of the upholders took an occasion to demand him also, and thereupon produced several evidences that witnessed to his life and conversation. It appeared, that each of them divided their hours in matters of equal moment and Importance to themselves and to the public.
These were followed by a great crowd of superannuated benchers of the inns of court, senior fellows of colleges, and defunct statesmen; all whom I ordered to be decimated indifferently, allowing the rest a reprieve for one year, with a promise of a free pardon in case of resuscitation.
Going out of the court, I received a letter, informing me, that, in pursuance of the edict of justice in one of my late visions, all those of the fair sex began to appear pregnant who had run any hazard of it; as was manifest by a particular swelling in the petticoats of several ladies in and about this great city.' I must confess, I do not attribute the rising of this part of the dress to this occasion, yet must own, that I am very much disposed to be offended with such a new and unaccountable fashion. I shall, however, pronounce nothing upon it, until I have examined all that can be said for and against it. And, in the mean time, think fit to give this notice to the fair ladies who are now making up their winter suits, that they may abstain from all dresses of that kind,
until they shall find what judgment will be passed upon them; for it would very much trouble me, that they should put themselves to an unnecessary expense; and I could not but think myself to blame, if I should hereafter forbid them the wearing of such garments, when they have laid out money upon them, without having given them any previous admonition.
N. B. A letter of the sixteenth instant about one of the fifth, will be answered accord. ing to the desire of the party, which he will see in a few days.
No. 111.] Saturday, December 24, 1709
Hence, ye profane! far hence be gone!
This admirable author, as well as the best and greatest men of all ages, and of all nations, seems to have had his mind thoroughly seasoned with religion, as is evident by many passages in his plays, that would not be suffered by a modern audience; and are, therefore, certain instances that the age he lived in had a much greater sense of virtue than the pre
Sheer-lane, December 23.
It is, indeed, a melancholy reflection to consider, that the British nation, which is now at a greater height of glory for its councils and conquests than it ever was before, should distinguish itself by a certain looseness of principles, and a falling-off from those schemes of thinking, which conduce to the happiness and perfection of human nature. This evil comes upon us from the works of a few solemn blockheads, that meet together, with the zeal and seriousness of apostles, to extirpate common
THE watchman, who does me particular honours, as being the chief man in the lane, gave so very great a thump at my door last night, that I awakened at the knock, and heard myself complimented with the usual salutation of, Good-morrow, Mr. Bickerstaff; good-morrow, my masters all.' The silence and darkness of the night disposed me to be more than ordinarily serious; and, as my attention was not drawn out among exterior objects by the avocations of sense, my thoughts naturally fell upon my-sense, and propagate infidelity. These are the self. I was considering, amidst the stillness of wretches, who, without any show of wit, learnthe night, what was the proper employment|ing, or reason, publish their crude conceptions of a thinking being? what were the perfections with an ambition of appearing more wise than it should propose to itself? and, what the end the rest of mankind, upon no other pretence it should aim at? My mind is of such a parti- than that of dissenting from them. One gets cular cast, that the falling of a shower of rain, by heart a catalogue of title-pages and editions; or the whistling of wind, at such a time, is apt and, immediately, to become conspicuous, deto fill my thoughts with something awful and clares that he is an unbeliever. Another solemn. I was in this disposition, when our knows how to write a receipt, or cut up a dog, bellman began his midnight homily, which he and forthwith argues against the immortality has been repeating to us every winter night for of the soul. I have known many a little wit, these twenty years, with the usual exordium; in the ostentation of his parts, rally the truth of the scripture, who was not able to read a chapter in it. These poor wretches talk blasthe objects of scorn or pity, than of our indig phemy for want of discourse, and are rather nation; but the grave disputant,* that reads and writes, and spends all his time in convincing himself and the world that he is no better than a brute, ought to be whipped out of government, as a blot to civil society, and a defamer of mankind. I love to consider an infidel, whether distinguished by the title of deist, atheist, or free-thinker, in three difand bis last moments. ferent lights, in his solitudes, his afflictions,
'Oh! mortal man, thou that art born in sin!'
Sentiments of this nature, which are in them. selves just and reasonable, however debased by the circumstances that accompany them, do not fail to produce their natural effect in a mind that is not perverted and depraved by wrong notions of gallantry, politeness, and ridicule. The temper which I now found my self in, as well as the time of the year, put me in mind of those lines in Shakspeare, wherein, according to his agreeable wildness of imagination, he has wrought a country tradition into a beautiful piece of poetry. In the tragedy of Hamlet, where the ghost vanishes upon the cock's crowing, he takes occasion
to mention its crowing all hours of the night about Christmas time, and to insinuate a kind of religious veneration for that season.
*This is a very ancient superstition. Philostratus, giving an account of the apparition of Achilles's shade to Apollonius Tyaneus, says, that it vanished with a little glimmer as soon as the cock crowed,
It faded on the crowing of the cock.
A wise man that lives up to the principles of reason and virtue, if one considers him in his
Perhaps the author here alludes to Toland, for we are told, by a contemporary writer, that He was once the butt of the Tatler.