« ПретходнаНастави »
taken from his audience all manner of superstition, by the agitations of pretty Mrs. Bignell, whom he has, with great subtilty, made a laysister, as well as a prophetess; by which means she carries on the affairs of both worlds with great success. My friend designs to go on with another work against winter, which he Lintends to call, 'The Modern Poets,' a people no less mistaken in their opinions of being inspired, than the other. In order to this, he has by him seven songs, besides many ambiguities, which cannot be mistaken for any thing but what he means them. Mr. Durfey generally writes state-plays, and is wonderfully useful to the world in such representations. This method is the same that was used by the old Athenians, to laugh out of countenance, or promote, opinions among the people. My friend has therefore, against this play is acted for his own benefit, made two dances, which may be also of an universal benefit. In the
This is a very lively image; but I must take the liberty to say, my kinsman drives the sun a little like Phaëton;* he has all the warmth of Phœbus, but will not stay for his direction of it. Avail and toil, defect and tract, will never do for rhymes. But, however, he has the true spirit in him; for which reason I was willing to entertain any thing he pleased to send me. The subject which he writes upon, naturally raises great reflexions in the soul, and puts us in mind of the mixed condition which we mor
first, he has represented absolute power in the
tals are to support; which, as it varies to good
in an absolute government, no gratifica-
ter performance he makes to be the represen-
than rules to make a man a fop on his death-your steps, you may go round and round very
bed. Commend me to that natural greatuess of soul, expressed by an innocent, and consequently resolute country-fellow, who said in the pains of the cholic, If I once get this breath out of my body, you shall hang me before you put it in again.' Honest Ned! and so he died. +
But it is to be supposed, that from this place you may expect an account of such a thing as a new play is not to be omitted. That acted this night is the newest that ever was writ. The author is my ingenious friend Mr. Thomas Durfey. This drama is called, The Modern Prophets,' and is a most unanswerable satire against the late spirit of enthusiasm. writer had by long experience observed that, in company, very grave discourses had been followed by bawdry; and therefore has turned the humour that way with great success, and
Desponding mortals, with officious care,
From my own Apartment, May 4.
Ovid, Metam. ii. 1.
+ This Ned was a farmer of Anthony Henley, Esq. who
mentions this saying of his in a letter to Swift.-Swift's heralds is a matter of so great nicety, that, to
Works, vol. xviii. p. 15.
avoid mistakes, I shall give you my cousin's letter verbatim, without altering a syllable. DEAR COUSIN,
There have been very considerable places. some of them of that strength and dexterity, that five hundred of the ablest men in the
Since you have been pleased to make your kingdom have often tugged in vain to pull a self so famous of late, by your ingenious writ- staff out of their hands. The Falstaffs are ings, and some time ago by your learned pre- strangely given to whoring and drinking; there are abundance of them in and about London. dictions; since Partridge, of immortal memory, is dead and gone, who, poetical as he was, could One thing is very remarkable of this branch, not understand his own poetry; and philoma- and that is, there are just as many women as tical as he was, could not read his own destiny; men in it. There was a wicked stick of wood since the pope, the king of France, and great of this name in Harry the Fourth's time, one part of his court, are either literally or meta- sir John Falstaff. As for Tipstaff, the youngest phorically defunct; since, I say, these things son, he was an honest fellow; but his sons, and (not foretold by any one but yourself) have his sons' sons, have all of them been the veriest come to pass after so surprising a manner; it rogues living; it is this unlucky branch that is with no small concern I see the original of has stocked the nation with that swarm of the Staffian race so little known in the world lawyers, attorneys, serjeants, and bailiffs, with as it is at this time; for which reason, as you which the nation is over-run. Tipstaff, being have employed your studies in astronomy, and a seventh son, used to cure the king's-evil; but his rascally descendants are so far from the occult sciences, so I, my mother being a Welch woman, dedicated mine to genealogy, having that healing quality, that, by a touch particularly that of our own family, which, for upon the shoulder, they give a man such an ill its antiquity and number, may challenge any habit of body, that he can never come abroad in Great Britain. The Staffs are originally of afterwards. This is all I know of the line of Staffordshire, which took its name from them: Jacobstaff; his younger brother Isaacstaff, as the first that I find the Staffs was one Jacob- I told you before, had five sons, and was marstaff, a famous and renowned astronomer, who, ried twice: his first wife was a Staff (for they by Dorothy his wife had issue seven sons; viz. did not stand upon false heraldry in those days) Bickerstaff, Longstaff, Wagstaff, Quarterstaff, by whom he had one son, who, in process of Whitestaff, Falstaff, and Tipstaff. He also had time, being a schoolmaster and well read in a younger brother, who was twice married, the Greek, called himself Distaff or Twiceand had five sons; viz. Distaff, Pikestaff, Mop-children out to trades; and the Distaffs have He was not very rich, so he put his staff, Broomstaff, and Raggedstaff. As the branch from whence you spring, I shall say very little of it, only that it is the chief of the Staffs, and called Bickerstaff, quasi Biggerstaff; as much as to say, the Great Staff, or Staff of Staffs; and that it has applied itself to astronomy with great success, after the example of our aforesaid forefather. The descendants from Longstaff, the second son, were a rakish disorderly sort of people, and rambled from one place to another, until, in the time of Harry the Second, they settled in Kent, and were called Long-tails, from the long tails which were sent them as a punishment for the murder of Thomas a-Becket, as the legends say. They have always been sought after by the ladies; but whether it be to show their aversion to popery, or their love to miracles, I cannot say. The Wagstaffs are a merry thoughtless sort of people, who have always been opinionated of their own wit; they have turned themselves mostly to poetry. This is the most numerous branch of our family, and the poorest. The Quarterstaffs are most of them prize-fighters or deer-stealers; there have been so many of them hanged lately, that there are very few of that branch of our family left. The Whitestaffs are all courtiers, and have had
ever since been employed in the woollen and
N. B. The Canes, the Clubs, the Cudgels, the Wands, the Devil upon two Sticks, and one Bread, that goes by the name of Staff of Life, I am, are none of our relations.
An allusion to the staff carried by the first lord of the treasury, afterwards lamourously compared by Steele to "an emmet distinguished from his fellows by a white straw."
'Your humble servant,
The House of Commons.
St. James's Coffee-house, May 4.
As political news is not the principal subject on which we treat, we are so happy as to have no occasion for that art of cookery which our brother newsmongers so much excel in; as appears by their excellent and inimitable manner of dressing up a second time for your taste the same dish which they gave you the day before, in case there come over no new pickles from Holland. Therefore, when we have nothing to say to you from courts and camps, we hope still to give you somewhat new and curi-work, than to publish what is sent me from ous from ourselves: the women of our house, such as have leisure and capacity for giving upon occasion, being capable of carrying on delight, and being pleased in an elegant manthe business, according to the laudable custom The present grandeur of the British naof the wives in Holland; but, without farther tion might make us expect, that we should rise preface, take what we have not mentioned in in our public diversions, and manner of enjoyour former relations. ing life, in proportion to our advancement in Letters from Hanover of the thirtieth of the glory and power. Instead of that, survey this last month say, that the prince royal of Prussia town, and you will find rakes and debauchees arrived there on the fifteenth, and left that are your men of pleasure; thoughtless atheists court on the second of this month, in pursuit and illiterate drunkards call themselves freeof his journey to Flanders, where he makes thinkers; and gamesters, banterers, biters, the ensuing campaign. Those advices add, swearers, and twenty new-born insects more, that the young prince Nassau, hereditary go- are, in their several species, the modern men vernor of Friesland, celebrated, on the twenty-of wit. Hence it is, that a man, who has been sixth of the last month, his marriage with the out of town but one half year, has lost the lanbeauteous princess of Hesse-Cassel, with a pomp guage, and must have some friend to stand by and magnificence suitable to their age and him, and keep him in countenance for talking quality. common sense. To-day I saw a short interlude at White's of this nature, which I took notes of, and put together as well as I could in a public place. The persons of the drama are Pip, the last gentleman that has been made so at cards; Trimmer, a person half undone at them, and who is now between a cheat and a gentleman; Acorn, an honest Englishman of good plain sense and meaning; and Mr. Friend
Letters from Paris say, his most Christian majesty retired to Marley on the first instant, N. S. and our last advices from Spain inform us, that the prince of Asturias had made his public entry into Madrid in great splendour. The duke of Anjou has given Don Joseph Har tado de Amaraga the government of Terra firma de Veragua, and the presidency of Panama in America. They add, that the forces com-ly, a reasonable man of the town. manded by the marquis de Bay have been reinforced by six battalions of Spanish Walloon guards. Letters from Lisbon advise, that the army of the king of Portugal was at Elvas on the twenty-second of the last month, and would decamp on the twenty-fourth, in order to march upon the enemy who lay at Badajos.
Yesterday, at four in the morning, his grace the duke of Marlborough set out for Margate, and embarked for Holland at eight this morning.
Yesterday also sir George Thorold was declared alderman of Cordwainers Ward, in the room of his brother sir Charles Thorold, deceased.
Saturday May 7, 1709.
Any ladies who have any particular stories of their acquaintance, which they are willing privately to make public, may send them by the penny-post to Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq. inclosed to Mr. John Morphew, near Stationers' Hall.
WHEN a man has engaged to keep a stage coach, he is obliged, whether he has passengers or not, to set out; thus it fares with us weekly historians; but indeed, for my particular, I hope, I shall soon have little more to do in this
White's Chocolate-house, May 5.
Enter PIP, TRIMMER, and ACORN, Ac. What is the matter, gentlemen? what! take no notice of an old friend?
Pip. Pox on it! do not talk to me, I am humour. voweled by the count, and cursedly out of
Ac. Voweled! pry'thee, Trimmer, what does he mean by that?
Trim. Have a care, Harry, speak softly; do not show your ignorance:-if you do, they will bite you wherever they meet you, they are such cursed curs-the present wits.
Ac. Bite me! what do you mean?
Pip. Why do not you know what biting is? nay, you are in the right on it. However, one would learn it only to defend one's self against men of wit, as one would know the tricks of play, to be secure against the cheats. But do not you hear, Acorn, that report, that some potentates of the alliance have taken care of themselves exclusively of us?
Ac. How! heaven forbid! after all our glorious victories; all the expense of blood and treasure!
Ac. Bite! how?
sions, which were too dangerous to be cured by the skill of little king Oberon, who then sat in the throne of it. The laziness of this prince threw him upon the choice of a person who was fit to spend his life in contentions, an
Trim. Nay, he has bit you fairly enough; able and profound attorney, to whom he mortthat is certain.
gaged his whole empire. This Divito + is the most skilful of all politicians; he has a perfect art in being unintelligible in discourse, and uncomeatable in business. But he, having no understanding in this polite way, brought in upon us, to get in his money, ladder dancers, jugglers, and mountebanks, to strut in the place of Shakspeare's heroes, and Jonson's humorists. When the seat of wit was thus mortgaged without equity of redemption, an architect arose, who has built the muse a new palace, but secured her no retinue; so that, instead of action there, we have been put off by song and dance. This latter help of sound has also begun to fail for want of voices; therefore the palace has since been put into the hands of a surgeon, who cuts any foreign fellow into a eunuch, § and passes him upon us for a singer of Italy.
Ac. Pox! I do not feel it-How? where?
[Exeunt Pip and Trimmer laughing. Ac. Ho! Mr. Friendly, your most humble servant; you heard what passed between those fine gentlemen and me. Pip complained to me, that he had been voweled; and they tell me I am bit.
Friend. You are to understand, sir, that simplicity of behaviour, which is the perfection of good breeding and good sense, is utterly lost in the world; and in the room of it there are started a thousand little inventions, which men, barren of better things, take up in the place of it. Thus, for every character in conversation that used to please, there is an impostor put upon you. Him whom we allowed, formerly, for a certain pleasant subtilty, and natural way of giving you an unexpected hit, called a droll, is now mimicked by a biter, who is a dull fellow, that tells you a lie with a grave face, and laughs at you for knowing him no better than to believe him. Instead of that sort of companion who could rally you, and keep his countenance, until he made you fall into some little inconsistency of behaviour, at which you yourself could laugh with him, you have the sneerer, who will keep you company from morning to night, to gather your follies of the day (which perhaps you commit out of confidence in him) and expose you in the evening to all the scorners in town. For your man of sense and free spirit, whose set of thoughts were built upon learning, reason, and experience, you have now an impudent creature made up of vice only, who supports his ignorance by his courage, and want of learning by contempt of it.
Friend. No, no; as you say, there might be some hopes of redress of these grievances, if there were proper care taken of the theatre; but the history of that is yet more lamentable than that of the decay of conversation I gave you.
Ac. Dear sir, hold: what you have told me already of this change in conversation is too miserable to be heard with any delight; but, methiuks, as these new creatures appear in the world, it might give an excellent field to writers for the stage, to divert us with the representa-written. tion of them there.
Ac. Pray, sir, a little: I have not been in town these six years, until within this fortnight.
Ac. I will go out of town to-morrow. Friend. Things are come to this pass; and yet the world will not understand, that the theatre has much the same effect on the manners of the age, as the bank on the credit of the nation. Wit and spirit, humour and good sense, can never be revived, but under the gogovernment of those who are judges of such talents; who know, that whatever is put up in their stead, is but a short and trifling expedient, to support the appearance of them for a season. It is possible, a peace will give leisure to put these matters under new regulations, but, at present, all the assistance we can see towards our recovery is as far from giving us help, as a poultice is from performing what can be done only by the grand elixir.
Friend. It is now some time since several revolutions in the gay world had made the empire of the stage subject to very fatal convul
Will's Coffee-house, May 6.
According to our late design in the applauded verses on the morning, which you lately had from hence, we proceed to improve that just intention, and present you with other labours, made proper to the place in which they were The following poem comes from Co
penhagen, and is as fine a winter-piece as we have ever had from any of the schools of the most learned painters. Such images as these give us a new pleasure in our sight, and fix upon our minds traces of reflection, which accompany us whenever the like objects occur. In short, excellent poetry and description dwell upon us so agreeably, that all the readers of them are made to think, if not write, like men of wit. But it would be injury to detain you longer from this excellent performance, which is addressed to the earl of Dorset by Mr. Philips, the author of several choice poems in Mr. Tonson's new Miscellany.
Copenhagen, March 9, 1709.
From trozen climes, and endless tracts of snow, From streams that northern winds forbid to flow, What present shall the muse to Dorset bring, Or how, so near the pole, attempt to sing? The hoary winter here conceals from sight All pleasing objects that to verse invite. The hills and dales, and the delightful woods, The flow'ry plains, and silver-streaming floods, By snow disguis'd, in bright confusion lie, And with one dazzling waste fatigue the eye.
No gentle-breathing breeze prepares the spring, No birds within the desert region sing: The ships unmov'd the boisterons winds defy, While rattling chariots o'er the ocean fly. The vast leviathan wants room to play, And spout his waters in the face of day, The starving wolves along the main sea prowl, And to the moon in icy valleys howl, For many a shining league the level main Jere spreads itself into a glassy plain : There solid billows of enormous size, Alps of green ice, in wild disorder rise.
And yet but lately have I seen, ev'n here, The winter in a lovely dress appear. Ere yet the clouds let fall the treasur'd snow, Or winds began thro' hazy skies to blow, At evening a keen eastern breeze arose; And the descending rain unsully'd froze. Soon as the silent shades of night withdrew, The ruddy morn disclos'd at once to view The face of nature in a rich disguise, And brighten'd ev'ry object to my eyes: For every shrub, and every blade of grass, And every pointed thorn, seem'd wrought in glass. In pearls and rubies rich the hawthorn's show, While thro' the ice the crimson berries glow. The thick-sprung reeds the watery marshes yield Seem polish'd lances in a hostile field. The stag in limpid currents, with surprise, Sees crystal branches on his forehead rise. The spreading oak, the beech, and towering pine, Glaz'd over, in the freezing æther shine. The frighted birds the rattling branches shun, That wave and glitter in the distant sun.
When, if a sudden gust of wind arise,
And by degrees unbind the wintery charm,
And journeys sad beneath the dropping trees.
Like some deluded peasant Merlin leads Thro' fragrant bowers, and thiro' delicious meads; While here enchanted gardens to him rise, And airy fabrics there attract his eyes, His wandering feet the magic paths pursue; And while he thinks the fair illusion true,
From my own Apartment, May 8. MUCH hurry and business has to-day perplexed me into a mood too thoughtful for going into company; for which reason, instead of the tavern, I went into Lincoln's Inn walks; and, having taken a round or two, I sat down, according to the allowed familiarity of these places, on a bench; at the other end of which sat a venerable gentleman, who speaking with a very affable air,- Mr. Bickerstaff,' said he,
I take it for a very great piece of good fortune that you have found me out.' Sir,' said 1, I had never, that I know of, the honour of seeing you before.' 'That,' replied be, is what I have often lamented; but, I assure you, I have for many years done you good offices, without being observed by you; or else, when you had any little glimse of my being concerned in an affair, you have fled from me, and shunned me like an enemy; but, bowever, the part I am to act in the world is such, that I am to go on in doing good, though I meet with never so many repulses, even from those I oblige. This, thought I, shews a great good-nature, but little judgment in the persons upon whom he confers his favours. He immediately took notice to me, that he observed by my countenance I thought him indiscreet in his beneficence, and proceeded to tell me his quality in the following manner: