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This paper, my reader will find, was intended for an answer to a multitude of correspondents; but I hope he will pardon me if I single out one of them in particular, who has made me so very humble a request, that I cannot forbear complying with it.

To the Spectator.

March 15, 1711

'SIR, 'I AM at present so unfortunate as to have nothing to do but to mind my own business, and therefore beg of you that you will be pleased to put me into some small post under you. I observe that you have appointed your printer and publisher to receive letters and advertisements for the city of London; and shall think myself very much honoured by you, if you will appoint me to take in letters and advertisements for the city of Westminster and the Duchy of Lancaster. Though I cannot promise to fill such an employment with sufficient abilities, I will endeavour to make up with industry and fidelity what I want in parts and genius. I am,



Your most obedient Servant,


1 Charles Lillie, a perfumer in the Strand, at the corner of Beaufort Buildings, was one of the agents for the sale of the Spectator; and in 1725 he published two volumes of Original and Genuine Letters sent to the Tatler and Spectator,' with a dedication to Steele, who had given his consent to the publication.

No. 17. Tuesday, March 20, 1711


-Tetrum ante omnia vultum.-Juv., Sat. x. 191.

INCE our persons are not of our own making,


when they are such as appear defective or uncomely it is, methinks, an honest and laudable fortitude to dare to be ugly; at least to keep ourselves from being abashed with a consciousness of imperfections which we cannot help, and in which there is no guilt. I would not defend a haggard beau for passing away much time at a glass, and giving softnesses and languishing graces to deformity all I intend is, that we ought to be contented with our countenance and shape so far as never to give ourselves an uneasy reflection on that subject. It is to the ordinary people, who are not accustomed to make very proper remarks on any occasion, matter of great jest if a man enters with a prominent pair of shoulders into an assembly, or is distinguished by an expansion of mouth or obliquity of aspect. It is happy for a man, that has any of these oddnesses about him, if he can be as merry upon himself, as others are apt to be upon that occasion: when he can possess himself with such a cheerfulness, women and children, who were at first frightened at him, will afterwards be as much pleased with him. As it is barbarous in others to rally him for natural defects, it is extremely agreeable when he can jest upon himself for them.

Madam Maintenon's first husband1 was a hero in

1 The Abbé Paul Scarron, author of the Roman Comique,' 1651, married in the following year Françoise d'Aubigné, a girl

this kind, and has drawn many pleasantries from the irregularity of his shape, which he describes as very much resembling the letter Z. He diverts himself likewise by representing to his reader the make of an engine and pulley, with which he used to take off his hat. When there happens to be anything ridiculous in a visage, and the owner of it thinks it an aspect of dignity, he must be of very great quality to be exempt from raillery: the best expedient therefore is to be pleasant upon himself. Prince Harry and Falstaff, in Shakespeare, have carried the ridicule upon fat and lean as far as it will go. Falstaff is humorously called 'woolsack,' 'bed-presser,' and 'hill of flesh'; Harry a 'starveling,' an 'elves-skin,' a 'sheath,' a 'bow-case,' and a tuck.' There is, in several incidents of the conversation between them, the jest still kept up upon the person. Great tenderness and sensibility in this point is one of the greatest weaknesses of self-love. For my own part, I am a little unhappy in the mould of my face, which is not quite so long as it is broad; whether this might not partly arise from my opening my mouth much seldomer than other people, and by consequence not so much lengthening the fibres of my visage, I am not at leisure to determine. However it be, I have been often put out of countenance by the shortness of

of sixteen, who afterwards became Madame de Maintenon. Born in 1610, Scarron became paralysed about 1637. In 1648, in his 'La Relation Véritable de tout ce qui s'est passé dans l'autre Monde, au Combat des Parques et des Poètes sur la Mort de Voiture,' Scarron compared his crippled figure to the letter Z, and prefixed to the book a frontispiece (reproduced in M. Jusserand's edition of the Comical Romance') showing his back as he was seated in a chair, surrounded by a mocking crowd.

1 A rapier.

my face, and was formerly at great pains in concealing it by wearing a periwig with a high foretop, and letting my beard grow. But now I have thoroughly got over this delicacy, and could be contented it were much shorter, provided it might qualify me for a member of the Merry Club, which the following letter gives me an account of. I have received it from Oxford, and as it abounds with the spirit of mirth and good humour which is natural to that place, I shall set it down word for word as it came

to me.


'HAVING been very well entertained, in the last of your speculations' that I have yet seen, by your specimen upon clubs, which I therefore hope you will continue, I shall take the liberty to furnish you with a brief account of such a one as perhaps you have not seen in all your travels, unless it was your fortune to touch upon some of the woody parts of the African continent in your voyage to or from Grand Cairo. There have arisen in this university (long since you left us, without saying anything) several of these inferior hebdomadal societies, as the Punning Club, the Witty Club, and amongst the rest the Handsome Club; as a burlesque upon which a certain merry species, that seem to have come into the world in masquerade, for some years last past have associated themselves together and assumed the name of the Ugly Club. This illfavoured fraternity consists of a president and twelve fellows; the choice of which is not confined by patent to any particular foundation (as St. John's men would have the world believe, and have there2 See No. 1.

1 No. 9.

fore erected a separate society within themselves), but liberty is left to elect from any school in Great Britain, provided the candidates be within the rules of the club, as set forth in a table entitled 'The Act of Deformity,' a clause or two of which I shall transmit to you.

'I. That no person whatsoever shall be admitted without a visible queerity in his aspect or peculiar cast of countenance; of which the president and officers for the time being are to determine, and the president to have the casting voice.


'II. That a singular regard be had, upon examination, to the gibbosity of the gentlemen that offer themselves as founders' kinsmen, or to the obliquity of their figure in what sort soever.

III. That if the quantity of any man's nose be eminently miscalculated, whether as to length or breadth, he shall have a just pretence to be elected.

'Lastly. That if there shall be two or more competitors for the same vacancy, cæteris paribus, he that has the thickest skin to have the preference.


'Every fresh member, upon his first night, is to entertain the company with a dish of cod-fish, and a speech in praise of Æsop, whose portraiture they have in full proportion, or rather disproportion, over the chimney; and their design is, as soon as their funds are sufficient, to purchase the heads of Thersites, Duns Scotus, Scarron, Hudibras, and



1 Oddity. The word is not found elsewhere.

2 Convexity.


3 Esop is said to have been the most deformed of all men of perhaps even uglier than Homer's Thersites.'

his age,

4 See Iliad, Book ii. He was lame and crook-backed, and squinted. * Duns Scotus was alleged by the followers of Thomas Aquinas, an opposing school of philosophers, to have been very ugly. 6 See Butler's poem, Part I., i. 240, seq.

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