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No. XVII. TUESDAY, MARCH 20.
Tetrum ante omnia vultum.
-- A vifage rough,
SINCE our perfons are not of our own making, when they are fuch as appear defective or uncomely, it is, methinks, an honeft and laudable fortitude to dare to be ugly; at leaft to keep ourselves from being abashed with a confcioufnefs of imperfections which we cannot help, and in which there is no guilt. I would not defend an haggard bean for paffing away much time at a glafs, and giving foftneffes and languishing graces to deformity; all I intend is, that we ought to be contented with our countenance and fhape, fo far as never to give ourselves an uneafy reflection on that fubject. It is to the ordinary people, who are not accuftomed to make very proper remarks on any occafion, matter of great jeft, if a man enters with a prominent pair of fhoulders into an affembly, or is diftinguished by an expanfton of mouth, or obliquity of afpect. It is happy for a man that has any of thefe oddneffes about him, if he can be as merry upon himself as others are apt to be upon that occafion; when he can poffefs himself with fuch a cheerfulness, women and children, who are at firft frighted at him, will afterwards be as much pleafed with him. As it is barbarous in others to rally him for natural defects, it is extremely agreeable when he can jeft upon himself for them.
Madam Maintenon's firft husband was an hero in this kind, and has drawn many pleafantries from the irregularity of his fhape; which he defcribes as very much refembling the letter Z. He diverts himself likewise, by reprefenting to his reader the make of an engine and pully, with which he ufed to take off his hat. When there happens to be any thing ridiculous in a visage, and the owner of it thinks it an afpect of dignity, he must be of very great quality to be exempt from raillery: the best
expedient therefore is to be pleafant upon himself. Prince Harry and Falftaff, in Shakespeare, have carried the ridicule upon fat and lean as far as it will go. Falfaff is humorously called Woolfack, Bedpreffer, and Hill of Flesh Harry, a Starvling, an Elves-fkin, a Sheath, a Bow-cafe, and a Tuck. There is, in feveral incidents of the converfation between them, the jeft ftill kept up upon the perfon. Great tenderness and fenfibility in this point is one of the greatest weakneffes of felf-love. For my own part. I am a little unhappy in the mold of my face, which is not quite fo long as it is broad. Whether this might not partly arife from my opening my mouth much feldomer than other people, and by confequence not fo much lengthening the fibres of my vifage, I am not at leifure to determine. However it be, I have been often put out of countenance by the fhortnefs of my face; and was formerly at great pains in concealing it by wearing a perriwig with an high fore-top, and letting my beard grow. But now I have thoroughly got over this delicacy, and could be contented with a 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 fpirit of mirth and good-humour which is natural to that place, I fhall fet it down word for word as it came
Moft profound Sir,
HAVING been very well entertained in the laft of your Speculations that I have yet feen, by your Specimen upon Clubs, which I therefore hope you will • continue, I fhall take the liberty to furnish you with a brief account of fuch a one as perhaps you have not • feen in all your travels, unless it was your fortune to touch upon fome of the woody parts of the African 'continent, in your voyage to or from Grand Cairo.
There have arofe in this univerfity (long fince you left us without faying any thing) feveral of thefe hebdomadal focieties; as the Punning Club, the Witty Club, and, amongst the reft, the Handfome Club; as a bur
lefque upon which, a certain merry fpecies, that feem to have come into the world in masquerade, for fome years laft paft have affociated themfelves together, and affumed the name of the Ugly Club. This ill-favoured fraternity confifts of a Prefident 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 therefore erected a feparate fociety 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 fet forth in a table, intituled, "The Act of Deformity." A claufe or two of which I fhall tranfmit to you.
I. That no perfon whatfoever fhall be admitted without a vifible queerity in his afpect, or peculiar caft ⚫ of countenance; of which the Prefident and Officers for the time being are to determine; and the Prefident to have the cafting-voice.
II. That a fingular regard be had, upon examination, to the gibbofity of the gentlemen that offer themfelves as founders kinfimen; or to the obliquity of their 'figure, in what fort foever.
III. That if the quantity of any man's nofe be eminently mifcalculated, whether as to length or breadth, he fhall have a juft pretence to be elected.
Laftly, That if there fhall be two or more competi· tors for the fame vacancy, cæteris paribus, he that has the thickeft fkin to have the preference.
Every fresh member, upon his first night, is to entertain the company with a difh of cod-fifh, and a fpeech in praife of Efop; whofe portraiture they have in full proportion, or rather difproportion, over the chimney; and their defign is, as foon as their funds are fufficient, to purchase the heads of Therfites, Duns Scotus, Sar'ron, Hudibras, and the old gentleman in Oldham, with • all the celebrated ill faces of antiquity, as furniture for the Club-room.
As they have always been profeffed admirers of the other fex, fo they unanimously declare that they will 'give all poffible encouragement to fuch as will take the
benefit of the ftatute, though none yet have appeared to
The worthy Prefident, who is their moft devoted champion, has lately fhewn me two copies of verses, compofed by a gentleman of this focicty; the first, a congratulatory ode infcribed to Mrs. Touchwood, upon the lofs of her two fore-teeth; the other a panegyric · upon Mrs Andiron's left fhoulder. Mrs. Vizard, he fays, fince the fall-pox, is grown tolerably ugly, and 6 a top toaft of the Club; but I never heard him to lavish of his fine things as upon old Nell Trott, who con stantly officiates at their table; her he even adores and extols as the very counterpart of Mother Shipton. In fhort, Nell, fays he, is one of the extraordinary works of nature; but as for complexion, fhape, and features, fo valued by others, they are all mere outfide and fynmetry, which is his averfion. Give me leave to add, that the Prefident is a facetious pleafant gentleman, and never more fo than when he has got (as he calls them) his dear Mummers about him; and he often protests it does him good to meet a fellow with a right genuine 'grimace in his air (which is fo agreeable in the generality of the French nation); and, as an inftance of his fincerity in this particular, he gave me a fight of a lift in his pocket book of all of this clafs, who for thefe five • years have fallen under his obfervation, with himself at the head of them, and in the rear (as one of a promifing • and improving afpect)
No. XVIII. WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21.
- Equitis quoque jam migravit ab aure voluptas Omnis ad incertos oculos, & gaudia vana.
But now our nobles too are fops and vain,
IT is my defign in this paper to deliver down to pofterity a faithful account of the Italian Opera, and of the gradual progrefs which it has made upon the English ftage: for there is no question but our great-grandchildren will be very curious to know the reafon why their forefathers ufed to fit together like an audience of foreigners in their own country, and to hear whole plays acted before them in a tongue which they did not understand.
Arfinoe was the firft opera that gave us a taste of Ita-` lian mufic. The great fuccefs this opera met with produced fome attempts of forming pieces upon Italian plans, which fhould give a more natural and reasonable entertainment than what can be met with in the elaborate trifles of that nation. This alarmed the poetafters and fiddlers of the town, who were ufed to deal in a more ordinary kind of ware; and therefore laid down an eftablifhed rule, which is received as fuch to this day," That nothing is capable of being well fet to mufic that is not "nonfenfe."
This maxim was no fooner received, but we immediately fell to tranflating the Italian operas; and as there was no great danger of hurting the fenfe of thofe extraordinary pieces, our authors would often make words of their own, which were intirely foreign to the meaning of the paffages they pretended to tranflate; their chief care being to make the numbers of the English verfe answer to thofe of the Italian, that both of them might go to the fame tune. Thus the famous fong in Camilla:
Barbara fi t'intendo, &c.
Barbarous woman! yes, 1 know your meaning-