« PředchozíPokračovat »
vhen they meet as naturally as the elephant and he rhinoceros*. But as we saw none of either of hese species, we are apt to think that our guides leceived us with misrepresentations and fictions, und amused us with an account of such monsters is are not really in their country.
· These particulars we made a shift to pick out from the discourse of our interpreters; which we put together as well as we could, being able to understand but here and there a word of what they said, and afterward making up the meaning of it among ourselves. The men of the country are very cunning and ingenious in handicraft works, but withal so very idle, that we often saw young lusty raw-boned fellows carried up and down the streets in little covered rooms, by a couple of porters, who are hired for that service. Their dress is likewise very barbarous, for they almost strangle themselves about the neck, and bind their bodies with several ligatures, that we are apt to think are the occasion of several distempers among them, which our country is entirely free from. Instead of those beautiful feathers with which we adorn our heads, they often buy up a monstrous bush of hair, which covers their heads, and falls down in a large fleece below the middle of their backs; and with which they walk up and down the streets, and are as proud of it as if it was of their own growth.
• We were invited to one of their public diversions, where we hoped to have seen the great men of their country running down a stag, or pitching a bar, that we might have discovered who were the persons of the greatest abilities among them; but
Of these two animals the Indian kings could have no ideas, and therefore seem here to be illustrating obscurum per obscurius, and explaining the monsters spoken of here by, animals that were not really in their country.
instead of that, they conveyed us into a huge room lighted up with abundance of candles, where this lazy people sat still above three hours to see several feats of ingenuity performed by others, who it seems were paid for it.
• As for the women of the country, not being able to talk with them, we could only make our remarks upon them at a distance. They let the hair of their heads grow to a great length; but as the men make a great show with heads of hair that are none of their own, the women, who they say have very fine heads of hair, tie it up in a knot, and cover it from being seen. The women look like angels, and would be more beautiful than the sun, were it not for little black spots that are apt to break out in their faces, and sometimes rise in very odd figures. I have observed that those little blemishes wear off very soon; but when they disappear in one part of the face, they are very apt to break out in another, insomuch that I have seen a spot upon the forehead in the afternoon, which was upon the chin in the morning.'
The author then proceeds to shew the absurdity of breeches and petticoats, with many other curious observations which I shall reserve for another occasion. I cannot however conclude this paper without taking notice, that amidst these wild remarks there now and then appears something very reasonable. I cannot likewise forbear observing, that we are all guilty in some measure of the same narrow way of thinking which we meet with in this abstract of the Indian journal; when we fancy the customs, dresses, and manners of other countries are ridiculous and extravagant, if they do not resemble those of our own.-C.
N° 51. SATURDAY, APRIL 28, 1711.
Torquet ab obscenis jam nunc sermonibus aurem.
HoR. 1 Ep. ii. 127. He from the taste obscene reclaims our youth.-Pope.
• MR. SPECTATOR, “My fortune, quality, and person, are such as render me as conspicuous as any young woman in town. It is in my power to enjoy it in all its vanities, but I have, from a very careful education, contracted a great aversion to the forward air and fashion which is practised in all public places and assemblies. I attribute this
very much to the style and manner of our plays. I was last night at the Funeral, where a confident lover in the play, speaking of his mistress, cries out—" Oh that Harriot! to fold thes arms about the waist of that beauteous, struggling, and at last yielding fair!" Such an image as this ought by no means to be presented to a chaste and regular audience. I expect your opinion of this sentence, and recommend to your consideration, as a Spectator, the conduct of the stage at present with relation to chastity and modesty. I am, Sir,
Your constant reader and well-wisher.' The complaint of this young lady is so just, that the offence is gross enough to have displeased persons who cannot pretend to that delicacy and modesty, of which she is mistress. But there is a great deal to be said in behalf of an author. If the audience would but consider the difficulty of keeping up a sprightly dialogue for five acts together, they would allow a writer, when he wants wit, and cannot please any otherwise, to help it out with a little smuttiness.
I will answer for the poets, that no one ever writ bawdry, for any other reason but dearth of invention. When the author cannot strike out of himself any more of that which he has superior to those who make up the bulk of his audience, his natural recourse is to that which he has in common with them; and a description which gratifies a sensual appetite will please, when the author has nothing about him to delight a refined imagination. It is to such a poverty we must impute this and all other sentences in plays, which are of this kind, and which are commonly termed luscious expressions*.
This expedient to supply the deficiencies of wit has been used more or less by most of the authors who have succeeded on the stage; though I know but one who has professedly writ a play upon the basis of the desire of multiplying our species, and that is the polite Sir George Etheridge ; if I understand what the lady would be at, in the play called She Would if She Could. Other poets have here and there given an intimation that there is this design, under all the disguises and affectations which a lady may put on; but no author, except this, has made sure work of it, and put the imaginations of the audience upon this one purpose from the beginning to the end of the comedy. It has always fared accordingly; for whether it be that all who go to this piece would if they could, or that the innocents go to it, to guess only what she would if she could, the play has always been well received.
It lifts a heavy empty sentence, when there is * Be it said here, to the honour of the author of this paper, that he practised the lessons which he taught, and did not reject good advice from what quarter soever it came. He published this lady's letter, and approved her indignation. He submitted to her censure, condemned himself publicly, and corrected the obnoxious passage of his play, in a new edition which was published in 1712.
added to it a lascivious gesture of body; and when it is too low to be raised even by that, a flat meaning is enlivened by making it a double one. Writers who want genius, never fail of keeping this secret in reserve, to create a laugh or raise a clap. I, who know nothing of women but from seeing plays, can give great guesses at the whole structure of the fair sex, by being innocently placed in the pit, and insulted by the petticoats of their dancers ; the advantages of whose pretty persons are a great help to ą.
dull play. When a poet flags in writing lusciously, 3
a pretty girl can move lasciviously, and have the same good consequence for the author. Dull poets in this case use their audiences, as dull parasites do their patrons; when they cannot longer divert them with their wit or humour, they bait their ears with something which is agreeable to their temper, though below their understanding. Apicius cannot resist being pleased, if you give him an account of a delicious meal; or Clodius, if you describe a wanton beauty; though, at the same time, if you do not awake those inclinations in them, no men are better judges of what is just and delicate in conversation. But, as I have before observed, it is easier to talk to the man than to the man of sense.
It is remarkable that the writers of least learning are best skilled in the luscious
poetesses of the
have done wonders in this kind; and we are obliged to the lady who writ Ibrahim*, for introducing a preparatory scene to the very action, when
emperor throws his handkerchief as a signal for his mistress to follow him into the most retired part of the seraglio. It must be confessed his Turkish majesty went off with a good air, but methought we made but a sad figure who waited without. This ingenious gentlewoman, in this piece of bawdry, re
* Mrs. Mary Pix.