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look into the bottom of this matter, we | every body takes it into his head to make shall meet with many observations to con- as many fools as he can. In proportion as firm us in this opinion. Every one laughs there are more follies discovered, so there at somebody that is in an inferior state of is more laughter raised on this day than on folly to himself. It was formerly the cus- any other in the whole year. A neighbour tom for every great house in England to of mine, who is a haberdasher by trade, keep a tame fool dressed in petticoats, that and a very shallow conceited fellow, makes the heir of the family might have an op- his boast that for these ten years succesportunity of joking upon him, and diverting sively he has not made less than a hunhimself with his absurdities. For the dred April fools. My landlady had a fallsame reason, idiots are still in request in ing out with him about a fortnight ago, for most of the courts of Germany, where sending every one of her children upon there is not a prince of any great magnifi- some sleeveless errand, as she terms it. cence, who has not two or three dressed, Her eldest son went to buy a half-pennydistinguished, undisputed fools in his reti- worth of inkle at a shoemaker's; the eldnue, whom the rest of the courtiers are est daughter was despatched half a mile to always breaking their jests upon. see a monster, and, in short, the whole family of innocent children made April fools. Nay, my landlady herself did not escape him. This empty fellow has laughed upon these conceits ever since.
The Dutch, who are more famous for their industry and application, than for wit and humour, hang up in several of their streets what they call the sign of the Gaper, that is, the head of an idiot dressed in a cap and bells, and gaping in a most immoderate manner. This is a standing jest at Amsterdam.
Thus every one diverts himself with some person or other that is below him in point of understanding, and triumphs in the superiority of his genius, whilst he has such objects of derision before his eyes. Mr. Dennis has very well expressed this in a couple of humorous lines, which are part of a translation of a satire in Monsieur Boileau:
This art of wit is well enough, when confined to one day in a twelvemonth: but there is an ingenious tribe of men sprung up of late years, who are for making April fools every day in the year. These gentlemen are commonly distinguished by the name of Biters: a race of men that are perpetually employed in laughing at those mistakes which are of their own production.
"Thus one fool lolls his tongue out at another, And shakes his empty noddle at his brother.' Mr. Hobbs's reflection gives us the reason why the insignificant people abovementioned are stirrers-up of laughter among men of a gross taste: but as the more understanding part of mankind do not find their risibility affected by such ordinary objects, it may be worth the while to examine into the several provocatives of laughter, in men of superior sense and knowledge.
In the first place I must observe, that there is a set of merry drolls, whom the common people of all countries admire, and seem to love so well, that they could eat them;' according to the old proverb: I mean those circumforaneous wits whom every nation calls by the name of that dish of meat which it loves best: in Holland they are termed Pickled Herrings; in France, Jean Pottage; in Italy, Macaronies; and in Great Britain, Jack Puddings. These merry wags, from whatsoever food they receive their titles, that they may make their audiences laugh, always appear in a fool's coat, and commit such blunders and mistakes in every step they take, and every word they utter, as those who listen to them would be ashamed of.
But this little triumph of the understanding under the disguise of laughter, is no where more visible than in that custom which prevails every where among us on the first day of the present month, when
Thus we see, in proportion as one man is more refined than another, he chooses his fool out of a lower or higher class of mankind, or to speak in a more philosophical language, that secret elation or pride of heart, which is generally called laughter, arises in him, from his comparing himself with an object below him, whether it so happens that it be a natural or an artificial fool. It is, indeed, very possible, that the persons we laugh at may in the main of their characters be much wiser men than ourselves; but if they would have us laugh at them, they must fall short of us in those respects which stir up this passion.
I am afraid I shall appear too abstracted in my speculations, if I show, that when a man of wit makes us laugh, it is by betraying some oddness or infirmity in his own character, or in the representation which he makes of others; and that when we laugh at a brute, or even at an inanimate thing, it is at some action or incident that bears a remote analogy to any blunder or absurdity in reasonable creatures.
But to come into common life: I shall pass by the consideration of those stage coxcombs that are able to shake a whole audience, and take notice of a particular sort of men who are such provokers of mirth in conversation, that it is impossible for a club or merry meeting to subsist without them; I mean those honest gentlemen that are always exposed to the wit and raillery of their well-wishers and companions; that are pelted by men, women, and children, friends and foes, and, in a word, stand as butts in conversation, for every
one to shoot at that pleases. I know several | taken all possible pains to acquire the face of these butts who are men of wit and sense, in which I shall present her to your conthough by some odd turn of humour, some sideration and favour. I am, gentlemen, unlucky cast in their person or behaviour, your most obliged humble servant, they have always the misfortune to make 'THE SPECTator. the company merry. The truth of it is, 'P. S. I desire to know whether you ada man is not qualified for a butt, who has mit people of quality.' not a good deal of wit and vivacity, even in the ridiculous side of his character. A stupid butt is only fit for the conversation of ordinary people: men of wit require one that will give them play, and bestir himself in the absurd part of his behaviour. A butt with these accomplishments frequent-terest ly gets the laugh of his side, and turns the ridicule upon him that attacks him. Sir John Falstaff was a hero of this species, and gives a good description of himself in his capacity of a butt, after the following manner: Men of all sorts,' says that merry knight, 'take a pride to gird at me. The brain of man is not able to invent any thing that tends to laughter more than I invent, or is invented on me. I am not only witty in myself, but the cause that wit is in other
No. 48.] Wednesday, April 25, 1711.
My correspondents take it ill if I do not, from time to time, let them know I have received their letters. The most effectual way will be to publish some of them that are upon important subjects; which I shall introduce with a letter of my own that I writ a fortnight ago to a fraternity who thought fit to make me an honorary member.
'April 17. 'MR. SPECTATOR,-To show you there that have honesty and fortitude enough to are among us of the vain weak sex, some dare to be ugly, and willing to be thought and recommendation to the Ugly So, I apply myself to you, to beg your inClub. If my own word will not be taken bring credible witnesses of my qualifications (though in this case a woman's may) I can for their company, whether they insist upon hair, forehead, eyes, cheeks, or chin; to which I must add, that I find it easier to lean to my left side, than to my right. I hope I am in all respects agreeable, and for humour and mirth, I will keep up to the president himself. pretend to is, that as I am the first woman All the favour I will who has appeared desirous of good company and agreeable conversation, I may take and keep the upper end of the table. And indeed I think they want a carver, which I can be, after as ugly a manner as they could wish. I desire your thoughts of my claim as soon as you can. Add to my features the length of my face, which is full half-yard; though I never knew the reason of it till you gave one for the shortness of yours. If I knew a name ugly enough to belong to the above described face, I would feign one; but, to my unspeakable misfortune, my name is the only disagreeable prettiness about me; so prythee make one for me that signifies all the deformity in the world. You understand Latin, but be sure bring it in with my being, in the sincerity of my heart, your most frightful admirer, and servant, 'HECATISSA.'
To the President and Fellows of the Ugly Club. "MAY IT PLEASE YOUR DEFORMITIES, I have received the notification of the 'MR. SPECTATOR,-I read your discourse honour you have done me, in admitting me upon affectation, and from the remarks made into your society. I acknowledge my want in it, examined my own heart so strictly, of merit, and for that reason shall endea- that I thought I had found out its most sevour at all times to make up my own fail-cret avenues, with a resolution to be aware ures, by introducing and recommending to of them for the future. But, alas! to my the club persons of more undoubted quali- sorrow I now understand that I have sefications than I can pretend to. I shall next veral follies which I do not know the root week come down in the stage-coach, in or- of. I am an old fellow, and extremely der to take my seat at the board; and shall troubled with the gout; but having always bring with me a candidate of each sex. a strong vanity towards being pleasing in The persons I shall present to you, are an the eyes of women, I never have a moold beau and a modern Pict. If they are ment's ease, but I am mounted in high-heeled not so eminently gifted by nature as our as- shoes, with a glazed wax-leather instep. sembly expects, give me leave to say their Two days after a severe fit, I was invited acquired ugliness is greater than any that to a friend's house in the city, where I behas ever appeared before you. The beau lieved I should see ladies; and with my has varied his dress every day of his life usual complaisance, crippled myself to wait for these thirty years past, and still added upon them. A very sumptuous table, agreeto the deformity he was born with. The able company, and kind reception, were but Pict has still greater merit towards us, and so many importunate additions to the torhas, ever since she came to years of discre- ments I was in. A gentleman of the family tion, deserted the handsome party, and observed my condition; and soon after the
queen's health, he in the presence of the whole company, with his own hands, degraded me into an old pair of his own shoes. This operation before fine ladies, to me (who am by nature a coxcomb) was suffered with the same reluctance as they admit the help of men in their greatest extremity. The return of ease made me forgive the rough obligation laid on me, which at that time relieved my body from a distemper, and will my mind for ever from a folly. For the charity received, I return my thanks this way. Your most humble 'Epping, April 18. 'SIR,-We have your papers here the morning they come out, and we have been very well entertained with your last, upon the false ornaments of persons who represent heroes in a tragedy. What made your speculation come very seasonably among us is, that we have now at this place a company of strollers, who are far from offending in the impertinent splendour of the drama. They are so far from falling into these false gallantries, that the stage is here in its original situation of a cart. Alexander the Great was acted by a fellow in a paper cravat. The next day the Earl of Essex seemed to have no distress but his poverty; and my Lord Foppington the same morning wanted any better means to show himself a fop, than by wearing stockings of different colours. In a word, though they have had a full barn for many days together, our itinerants are so wretchedly poor, that without you can prevail to send us the furniture you forbid at the playhouse, the heroes appear only like sturdy beggars, and the heroines gypsies. We have had but one part which was performed and dressed with propriety, and that was justice Clodpate. This was so well done, that it offended Mr. Justice Overdo, who in the midst of our whole audience, was (like Quixote in the puppet-show) so highly provoked, that he told them, if they would move compassion, it should be in their own persons, and not in the characters of distressed princes and potentates. He told them if they were so good at finding the way to people's hearts, they should do it at the end of bridges or church porches, in their proper vocation of beggars. This, the justice says, they must expect, since they could not be contented to act heathen warriors, and such fellows as Alexander, but must presume to make a mockery of one of the quorum. Your servant.' R.
fee-houses. Here a man of my temper is in his element; for if he cannot talk, he can still be more agreeable to his company, as well as pleased in himself, in being only a hearer. It is a secret known but to few, yet of no small use in the conduct of life, that when you fall into a man's conversation, the first thing you should consider is, whether he has a greater inclination to hear you, or that you should hear him. The latter is the more general desire, and I know very able flatterers that never speak a word in praise of the persons from whom they obtain daily favours, but still practise a skilful attention to whatever is uttered by those with whom they converse. We are very curious to observe the behaviour of great men and their clients: but the same passions and interests move men in lower spheres; and I (that have nothing else to do but make observations) see in every parish, street, lane, and alley of this populous city, a little potentate that has his court and his flatterers, who lay snares for his affection and favour, by the same arts that are practised upon men in higher stations.
In the place I most usually frequent, men differ rather in the time of day in which they make a figure, than in any real greatness above one another. I, who am at the coffee-house at six in the morning, know that my friend Beaver, the haberdasher, has a levee of more undissembled friends and admirers, than most of the courtiers or generals of Great Britain. Every man about him has, perhaps, a newspaper in his hand; but none can pretend to guess what step will be taken in any one court of Europe, till Mr. Beaver has thrown down his pipe, and declares what measures the allies must enter into upon this new posture of affairs. Our coffee-house is near one of the inns of court, and Beaver has the audience and admiration of his neighbours from six till within a quarter of eight, at which time he is interrupted by the students of the house; some of whom are ready dressed for Westminster at eight in the morning, with faces as busy as if they were retained in every cause there; and others come in their nightgowns to saunter away their time, as if they never designed to go thither. I do not know that I meet in any of my walks, objects which move both my spleen and laughter so effectually, as those young fellows at the Grecian, Squire's, Searle's, and all other coffee-houses adjacent to the law, who rise early for no other purpose but to publish their laziness. One would think these young virtuosos take a gay cap and slippers, with a scarf and party-coloured gown, to be ensigns of dignity; for the vain things approach each other with an air, which shows they regard one another for their vestments. I have observed that the superiority among these proceeds from an opinion of gallantry and fashion. The gentleman in the strawberry sash, who presides so much over the rest, has, it seems, subscribed to every opera
No. 49.] Thursday, April 26, 1711.
It is very natural for a man who is not turned for mirthful meetings of men, or assemblies of the fair sex, to delight in that sort of conversation which we find in cof
this last winter, and is supposed to receive | wise in his sentences, and are no sooner sat favours from one of the actresses. down at their own tables, but they hope or fear, rejoice or despond, as they saw him do at the coffee-house. In a word, every man is Eubulus as soon as his back is turned.
Having here given an account of the several reigns that succeed each other from day-break till dinner-time, I shall mention the monarchs of the afternoon on another occasion, and shut up the whole series of them with the history of Tom the Tyrant;* who, as the first minister of the coffee-house, takes the government upon him between the hours of eleven and twelve at night, and gives his orders in the most arbitrary manner to the servants below him, as to the disposition of liquors, coals, and cinders.
When the day grows too busy for these gentlemen to enjoy any longer the pleasures of their dishabille, with any manner of confidence, they give place to men who have business or good sense in their faces, and come to the coffee-house either to transact affairs, or enjoy conversation. The persons to whose behaviour and discourse I have most regard, are such as are between these two sorts of men; such as have not spirits too active to be happy and well pleased in a private condition, nor complexions too warm to make them neglect the duties and relations of life. Of these sort of men consist the worthier part of mankind; of these are all good fathers, generous brothers, sincere friends, and faithful subjects. Their entertainments are de
Nunquam aliud natura, aliud sapientia dixit. Juv. Sat. xiv. 321. Good taste and nature always speak the same. -WHEN the four Indian kings were in this country, about a twelvemonth ago, I often mixed with the rabble and followed them a whole day together, being wonderfully struck with the sight of every thing that is new or uncommon. I have, since their de
rived rather from reason than imagination; No. 50.] Friday, April 27, 1711. which is the cause that there is no impatience or instability in their speech or action. You see in their countenances they are at home, and in quiet possession of the present instant as it passes, without desiring to quicken it by gratifying any passion, or prosecuting any new design. These are the men formed for society, and those little communities which we express by the word neighbourhood. The coffee-house is the place of ren-parture, employed a friend to make many dezvous to all that live near it, who are inquiries of their landlord the upholsterer, thus turned to relish calm and ordinary relating to their manners and conversation, life. Eubulus presides over the middle as also concerning the remarks which they hours of the day, when this assembly of made in this country: for, next to the formmen meet together. He enjoys a great for- ing a right notion of such strangers, I should tune handsomely, without launching into be desirous of learning what ideas they have expense; and exerts many noble and useful conceived of us. qualities, without appearing in any public employment. His wisdom and knowledge are serviceable to all that think fit to make use of them; and he does the office of a counsel, a judge, an executor, and a friend to all his acquaintance, not only without the profits which attend such offices, but also without the deference and homage which are usually paid to them. The giving of thanks is displeasing to him. The greatest gratitude you can show him, is to let him see you are a better man for his services; and that you are as ready to oblige others, as he is to oblige you.
The upholsterer finding my friend very inquisitive about these his lodgers, brought him some time since a little bundle of papers, which he assured him were written by king Sa Ga Yean Qua Rash Tow, and, as he supposes, left behind by some mistake. These papers are now translated, and contain abundance of very odd observations, which I find this little fraternity of kings made during their stay in the isle of Great Britain. I shall present my reader with a short specimen of them in this paper, and may perhaps communicate more to him hereafter. In the article of London are the following words, which without doubt are meant of the church of St. Paul:
In the private exigencies of his friends, he lends at legal value considerable sums which he might highly increase by rolling in the public stocks. He does not consider in whose hands his money will improve most, but where it will do most good.
Eubulus has so great an authority in his little diurnal audience, that when he shakes his head at any piece of public news, they all of them appear dejected; and on the contrary, go home to their dinners with a good stomach and cheerful aspect when Eubulus seems to intimate that things go well. Nay, their veneration towards him is so great, that when they are in other company they speak and act after him: are
'On the most rising part of the town there stands a huge house, big enough to contain the whole nation of which I am king. Our good brother E Tow O Koam, king of the Rivers, is of opinion it was made by the hands of that great God to whom it is consecrated. The kings of Granajah and of the Six Nations believe that it was created with the earth, and produced on But the same day with the sun and moon. for my own part, by the best information that I could get of this matter, I am apt to
*The waiter of that coffee-house, frequently nicknamed Sir Thomas.
think that this prodigious pile was fashioned | pick out from the discourse of our interpreinto the shape it now bears by several tools ters; which we put together as well as we and instruments, of which they have a won- could, being able to understand but here derful variety in this country. It was pro- and there a word of what they said, and bably at first a huge misshapen rock, that afterwards making up the meaning of it grew upon the top of the hill, which the among ourselves. The men of the country natives of the country (after having cut it are very cunning and ingenious in handiinto a kind of regular figure) bored and craft works, but withal so very idle, that hollowed with incredible pains and indus- we often saw young, lusty, rawboned feltry, till they had wrought in it all those lows, carried up and down the streets in beautiful vaults and caverns into which it is little covered rooms, by a couple of porters, divided at this day. As soon as this rock who are hired for that service. Their dress was thus curiously scooped to their liking, is likewise very barbarous, for they almost a prodigious number of hands must have strangle themselves about the neck, and been employed in chipping the outside of bind their bodies with several ligatures, it, which is now as smooth as the surface of that we are apt to think are the occasion a pebble; and is in several places hewn out of several distempers among them, which into pillars that stand like the trunks of so our country is entirely free from. Instead many trees bound about the top with gar- of those beautiful feathers with which we lands of leaves. It is probable that when adorn our heads, they often buy up a monthis great work was begun, which must strous bush of hair, which covers their have been many hundred years ago, there heads, and falls down in a large fleece bewas some religion among this people; for low the middle of their backs; and with *hey give it the name of a temple, and have which they walk up and down the streets, a tradition that it was designed for men to and are as proud of it as if it was of their pay their devotions in. And indeed there own growth, are several reasons which make us think that the natives of this country had formerly among them some sort of worship; for they set apart every seventh day as sacred: but upon my going into one of these holy houses on that day, I could not observe any circumstance of devotion in their behaviour. There was indeed a man in black, who was mounted above the rest, and seemed to utter something with a great deal of vehemence; but as for those underneath him, instead of paying their worship to the deity of the place, they were most of them bowing and curtseying to one another, and a considerable number of them fast asleep.
The queen of the country appointed two men to attend us, that had enough of our language to make themselves understood in some few particulars. But we soon perceived these two were great enemies to one another, and did not always agree in the same story. We could make shift to gather out of one of them, that this island was very much infested with a monstrous kind of animals, in the shape of men, called whigs, and he often told us, that he hoped we should meet with none of them in our way, for that if we did, they would be apt to knock us down for being kings.
"Our other interpreter used to talk very much of a kind of animal called a tory, that was as great a monster as the whig, and would treat us as ill for being foreigners. These two creatures, it seems are born with a secret antipathy to one another, and engage when they meet as naturally as the elephant and the rhinoceros. But as we saw none of either of these species, we are apt to think that our guides deceived us with misrepresentations and fictions, and amused us with an account of such monsters as are not really in their country. 'These particulars we made a shift to
diversions, where we hoped to have seen
being able to talk with them, we could only
absurdity of breeches and petticoats, with The author then proceeds to show the many other curious observations, which I shall reserve for another occasion. I cannot however conclude this paper without tak ing 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 meawhich we meet with in this abstract of the sure of the same narrow way of thinking