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Dancing appears to have been a great amusement with the learned of antiquity; and, in truth, it is a most scholarlike diversion. Lucian, in his book de Saltatione, confesses that he took infinite delight in singing, dancing, and music; and even the grave Scaliger acknow. ledges that he was unmeasureably affected with music, and that he took much pleasure in beholding dances. Cicero, it is true, has told us that nemo saltat sobrius, a maxim in which the literati of modern times seem to coincide. There is certainly no amusement in which so much exercise may be compressed within so short a time as dancing, and I would therefore propose it to our surans as a most desirable accomplishment. Would it not be well to institute a sort of Literary Almack's? The advantages which might be derived from such an assembly are incalculable. The author and the reviewer would forget their mutual heartburnings in thus mingling in the same festive scene; and the injuries inflicted by the Edinburgh and the Quarterly would be redressed in the mazes of " L'Eté” or “ La Poule." What might not be expected from the keen encounter of so many wits ? Nay, what fond attachments might not arise between our most celebrated writers; and what prodigies of future genius might not the world thus promise itself! Then, again, what hints for histories, what embryos of epics, what skeletons of romances, might not be found at such an assembly; and how pleasantly contrasted would it be with the venerable dulness of the Royal Society's meetings! There are many other exercises also which are peculiarly titted for our literati, who, as their business is reflection, should make action their amusement. Upon this point, I cannot do better than transcribe the advice of one of our own old chivalrous scholars. " It will be good also for a gentleman to learn to leap, wrestle, and vault on horseback, they being all of them qualities of great use."
It must not be supposed, because some instances may be found of men of letters who have been averse to violent exercises or lively amusements, that therefore my theory is incorrect. In general, such instances are where the men have been of weak constitutions or sickly habits; as, unfortunately, has been the case with too many of our scholars. Pope was feeble and wretched all his life; and would have been annihilated had he ventured to go a-hunting. Gibbon suffered much from ill-health ; and his greatest pleasure, therefore, was pacing quietly up and down his garden. Gray, who was a nervous man, was lady-like in his amusements, and could fancy no higher gratification than to lie at full length on a sofa or a bench reading novels. Beattie has represented his young Minstrel as shunning the ruder sports of his companions; and that melancholy retiring disposition often distinguishes the temperament of genius; but, at the same time, it is frequently accompanied with weakness or ill-health. Sir William Jones, too, passed a sickly childhood. If Johnson's habits were sedentary, both from the want of faculties for exercise and the cumbrousness of his person, it must be remembered, that he has sufficiently recorded the delight which violent motion was capable of affording him, in his well-known remark,“ that life contained nothing better than the excitation produced by being hurried along at full speed in a post-chaise. We could mention more than one grave and learned judge, or solemn statesman, “ è consiliis secretioribus regis,” who have taken no small delight in cheering the hounds and tracking the footsteps of the hare; indeed, it has been
boldly stated, that so enamoured of his gun, on one occasion, was a certain distinguished dignitary of the law, that he actually hurried to the field, without taking the usual preliminary step of procuring a license. Even the great pillars of our church have often been“ mighty hunters.” In the good old times the king, on the death of a bishop, was entitled to his best pack of hounds. At least, as late as James the First's time, our dignified churchmen did not scruple to indulge in the sports of the field, as may be learned from the case of Archbishop Abbott, who had the misfortune to kill one of the foresters while he was hunting. But I hasten to more gentle amusements.
Far, far above every other delight of intellectual spirits, is the charm of music. It is the language of the feelings. Who is there, that in listening to an old and remembered air, has not found his heart as audibly addressed, as when his ear has been greeted by the voice of a valued and early friend? I often think that many of the finest passages in Shakspeare have precisely the same effect on the mind as beautiful music—they go directly to the feelings without the interposition of the judgment. That the master-dramatist himself knew and acknowledged the power of music, is evident in every part of his writings ; and that be thought it a worthy amusement for the leisure-hours of the studious, should appear from the lines
“ Music was given to sooth the mind of man
After his studies, and relieve his cares." Indeed, there is a refreshment in its tones which seems to me the most reviving thing in the world. There is certainly “no charm like music to a weary spirit;" and though I do not go the length of the learned Scriblerus, in the belief of its influence over the human mind, yet I do think that it is a relaxation eminently suited to the literary character, and as such I would have our scholars cultivate a taste for it. Sodo not recommend them to study the science and the practice of it so deeply as Gargantua, who 6 learned to play upon the lute, the virginals, the harp, the Allman flute with nine holes, the viol, and the sackbut,” but I am sure that, if they choose to cultivate it, they will soon find the delight and advantage of a musical taste. Fine music is the most excellent composer of the spirits —
" A solemn air is the best comforter
To an unsettled fancy." Like sleep, it takes full possession of the mind, and restores it to its tone more delightfully than sleep. To a poetical temperament music has a still more exquisite relish; for it begets all those feelings which are at once the parent and the offspring of poetry. “Music and poetry, says Shakspeare, linking them together, “used to quicken you." The loftiest of all our bards was passionately attached to this science. “ His early and frugal dinner succeeded, and when it was finished, he resigned himself to the recreation of music, by which he found his mind at once gratified and restored. Of music he was particularly fond, and both with its science and its practice he was more than superficially acquainted. He could compose, as Richardson says it was reported; and with his voice, which was delicately sweet and harmoDious, he would frequently accompany the instruments on which he played, the bass viol or the organ *.” Indeed, after he had become blind, his ears, as Richardson says, became eyes to him, and on hear. ing a lady sing, “Now will I swear,” says he, “ this lady is handsome.” In his tractate on education he strongly recommends music after meals; a practice, of which, Sir William Jones tells us, he has, from his own experience found the advantaget. Many other illustrious names might be mentioned, who amidst their graver studies have mingled the charms of music. To such blandishments, indeed, Samuel Johnson always refused to submit himself; or rather he appears to have been perfectly insensible to the touches of sweet harmony." I have always accounted this a great defect in his character. The bitterness of Mrs. Thrale's marriage must have been exceedingly enhanced to him by her becoming the wife of a music master.
By way of opposition to the delights of music, which is undoubtedly the most intellectual of all the pleasures to which the senses serve as avenues, I may mention the enjoyments of the table. Now, it must be confessed, that the literati, as a body, are by no means insensible of the kindness which Nature has shown to man in spreading for him 80 abundant a banquet of cates and delicacies. If I mistake not, the habits of literary occupation rather induce a disposition to good-fellowship and joviality at those seasons when the mind is released from its bondage ; and, accordingly, we find in the lives and writings of our poets not a few symptoms of their attachment to the fruits of the earth. So the lawyers—than whom, I believe, no set of men exchange with more zest the pen for the knife and fork. Nay, philosophers themselves have been but too often vanquished with the charms of stewed lampreys, and the sparkling graces of their wine-cups. “ Neither the greatest captains, nor the greatest philosophers, says one who was a perfect philosopher in his way," have disdained either the use or science of eating well.” The same candid writer has told us how keen he was himself in the use of his knife and fork-no, I mistake-of his fingers. “ 'Tis indecent, besides the hurt it does to one's health, to eat so greedily as I do: I often bite my tongue, and sometimes my fingers, for hastes.”—I am not aware that any of your English authors are very celebrated for their powers of digestion. Thomson was, certainly, an epicure-an indolent epicure—and would lie in bed till some favourite dish was announced to be on the table. Swift was fond of good-living, but his health would not suffer him to indulge in it. When young, he had been too fond of eating fruits, and the proverb which he made when walking through a friend's garden, shows some remains of his former taste
• Pluck a peach,
When it's in your reach." Unfortunately the Dean, in his boyhood, had plucked too many, and the effects of an attack from eating stone-fruit never left him in after-life. Thomson, by the by, used not to pluck the peaches, but would stand with his hands behind him, eating them as they grew
* Symmons's Life of Milton, p. 575.
+ In his Utopia, Sir Thomas More recommends music at meal-times. Lord Herbert of Cherbury tells us he learned music " to refresh his mind after his studies,"
against the wall. Pope was rather nice than voracious in his appetite: Johnson rather voracious than nice. The great lexicographer must bave presented something of the appearance of a Boa Constrictor during his meals: regarding his plate with undivided attention, he ate hastily and greedily, till the perspiration would start from his forehead, and the veins across his temples would swell with the exertion. There are but few amongst our poets who have “praised the lean and sallow abstinence," and still fewer who have practised such precepts. Some compulsory instances must, indeed, be excepted, such as Chatterton and Otway, “ who oft with gods did diet;" but the ravenous appetite of the one, when invited by his pitying landlady to dinner, and the tragical death of the other, who is said to have been choaked by a pennyroll
, swallowed in the extremity of his hunger, but too plainly prove that “Spare Fast” found in them but unwilling disciples.
I shall not enter into those more refined and intellectual amusements in which the studious indulge, but which are, in fact, rather their occupations than their amusements. Chess is a game of this kind, which may be called an amusement, but is, certainly, no relaxation; and yet how gladly would I, sedentary as I am, exchange the sunniest walk on a fresh spring morning for a tough combat at that admirable game with an equal adversary.
J. W T.
THE COURT OF ALDERMEN
AT FISHMONGERS' HALL.
Is that dace or perch?
Said Alderman Birch ;
Said Alderman Perring.
Said Alderman Wood ;
Said Alderman Ansley.
Said Alderman Heygate.
Said Alderman Thorp.
Said Aldermen Smith.
Said Alderman Brown;
Said Alderman Glyn.
Said Alderman Waithman :
Said Alderman Atkins.
They 've crimp'd this cod drolly,
Said Alderman Scholey;
Said Alderman Brydges.
Said Alderman Magnay.
Said Alderman Ven-
Said Alderman Cox.
Said Alderman Curtis.
Said Alderman Thompson ;
Said Alderman Shaw:
Said Alderman Hunter.
Said Alderman Flower ;
Said Alderman Garret,
LETTER FROM A BASHFUL BACHELOR.
“ Therefore, let Benedict, like covered fire,
Which is as bad as die with tickling." MR. EDITOR,-I fear that but few of your readers will remember the “ Cavalier seul” who once made your Magazine the medium of conveying his complaints and expostulations to the dancing world. I cannot say that my remonstrances produced any improvement in my fate : the gentlemen are still condemned to an occasional pas seul, and the only change in the rules of the quadrille is that which subjects the ladies, in their turn, to the same awful and conspicuous solitude. This has but extended the misery I wished to remove, without diminishing, in the slightest degree, my individual distress. The blushes of two or three timid girls (few London ball-rooms are graced by so many) afford me no consolation ; and till fashion has effected its usual changes, and sent this odious quadrille to mourn over departed greatness, in company with the ghosts of country-dances, hoops, pig-tails, and kaleidoscopes, I must be content to be classed amongst the lame, the idle, the disobliging, or the philosophical spectators, who are of no use at a ball, except to take up room and eat ice.
The subject upon which I now address you is of infinitely greater importance : yet here, alas ! I expect not relief; sympathy is all I ask, sympathy from a few unfortunate beings, branded, like myself, with the ineffaceable stamp of bashfulness. Mr. Editor, how am I ever to get married? Where shall I acquire the requisite portion of heroism and effrontery? A shy man married is to me a more stupendous, incomprehensible, unanswerable proof of the power of love, than any other which the history of the world can produce. Hercules with his distaff, Antony“ teaching cowards to run," Cimon's brightened intellect, Orlando's furies, are trifling exhibitions of Cupid's potency, compared with that which he must exercise ere a man of my unhappy constitution is bound in the fetters of Hymen. In the first place, how am I to ingratiate myself with any woman-1, who blush when I try to gaze, stammer when I wish to compliment, and whose timid gallantries generally terminate in depositing a cup of coffee in the lady's lap, treading on her delicate little foot, or carrying off with me two or three yards of founce, when I hasten with nervous precipitation, to execute some trifling command ? Sighing is the only duty of an undeclared lover which I should be able to perform ; but sighing needs the explanatory accompaniments of admiring glances and tender whispers, or it may be mistaken for the symptom of a guilty conscience, or a disordered stomach. Solitary, abstract, unappropriated sighing, is like a love. letter without a superscription, or a serenade performed in the middle of Russell-square-it tells no secret, it pleads no cause, and may be claimed by any one but the right person. Long acquaintance, however, might perhaps interest some kind heart in my favour: I take two years to ask a lady to drink wine, about four ere I presume to offer her my arın when walking out, and at the end of seven I might possibly be prepared to make a tender of a more serious nature, to pass that Rubicon which has terrified many a heart of bolder materials than mine. On