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fected, he immediately concluded that all the persons he saw in these strange habits were foreigners, and conceived a great indignation against them, for pretending to laugh at an English country-gentleman. But he soon recovered out of his error, by hearing the voices of several of them, and particularly of a shepherdess quarrelling with her coachman, and threatening to break his bones, in very intelligible English, though with a masculine tone. His astonishment still increased upon him, to see a continued procession of harlequins, scaramouches, punchinellos, and a thousand other merry dresses, by which people of quality distinguish their wit from that of the vulgar.
Being now advanced as far as Somerset-house, and observing it to be the great hive whence these chimeras issued forth, from time to time, my friend took his station among a cluster of mob, who were making themselves merry with their betters. The first that came out was a very venerable matron, with a nose and chin that were within a very little of touching one another. My friend, at the first view fancying her to be an old woman of quality, out of his good breeding put off his hat to her, when the person pulling off her mask, to his great surprise, appeared a smock-faced young fellow. His attention was soon taken off from this object, and turned to another that had very hollow eyes, and a wrinkled face, which flourished in all the bloom of fifteen. The whiteness of the lily was blended in it with the blush of the rose. He mistook it for a very whimsical kind of mask; but, upon a nearer view, he found that she held her viz. ard in her hand, and that what he saw was only her natural countenance, touched up with the usual improvements of an aged co: quette.
The next who shewed herself was a female quaker, so very pretty, that he could not forbear licking his lips, and saying to the mob about him, 'It is ten thousand pities she is not a church
woman.' The quaker was followed by half a dozen nuns, who filed off one after another up Catharine-street, to their respective convents in Drury-lane.
The 'squire, observing the preciseness of their dress, began now to imagine, after all, that this was a nest of sectaries; for he had often heard that the town was full of them. He was confirmed in this opinion upon seeing a conjurer, whom he guessed to be the holder forth. However, to satisfy himself, he asked a porter, who stood next him, what religion these people were of? The porter replied, “ They are of no religion ; it is a masquerade.' 'Upon that, (says my friend,) I began to smoke that they were a parcel of mummers;' and being himself one of the quorum in his own county, could not but wonder that none of the Middlesex justices took care to lay some of them by the heels. He was the more provoked in the spirit of magistracy, upon discovering two very unseemly objects: the first was a judge, who rapped out a great oath at his footıran; and the other a big-bellied woman, who, upon taking a leap into the coach, miscarried of a cushion. What still gave him greater offence, was a drunken bishop, who reeled from one side of the court to the other, and was very sweet upon an Indian queen. But his worship, in the midst of his austerity, was mollified at the sight of a very lovely milk-maid, whom he began to regard with an eye of mercy, and conceived a particular affection for her, until he found, to his great amazement, that the standers-by suspected her to be a duchess.
I must not conclude this narrative, without mentioning one disaster which happened to my friend on this occasion. Having for his better convenience dismounted, and mixed among the crowd, he found, upon his arrival at the inn, that he had lost his purse and his almanac. And though it is no wonder such a trick should be played him by some of the curious spectators, he can.
not beat it out of his head, but that it was a cardinal who picked his pocket, and that this cardinal was a Presbyterian in disguise.
No. 45. FRIDAY, MAY 25.
Nimium nisus pretium est si probitatis impendio constat.-QUINTIL.
I have lately read, with much pleasure, the Essays upon several Subjects, published by Sir Richard Blackmore; and though I agree with him in many of his excellent observations, I cannot but take that reasonable freedom, which he himself makes use of with regard to other writers, to dissent from him in some few particulars. In his reflections upon works of wit and humour, he observes how unequal they are to combat vice and folly; and seems to think, that the finest raillery and satire, though directed by these generous views, never reclaimed one vicious man, or made one fool depart from his folly."
This is a position very hard to be contradicted, because no author knows the number or names of his converts. As for the Tatlers and Spectators, in particular, which are obliged to this ingenious and useful author for the character he has given of them, they were so generally dispersed in single sheets, and have since been printed in so great numbers, that it is to be hoped they have made some proselytes to the interests, if not to the practice of wisdom and virtue, among such a multitude of read
I need not remind this learned gentleman, that Socrates, who was the greatest propagator of morality in the heathen world, and a martyr for the unity of the godhead, was so famous for
a I incline to Sir Richard Blackmore's opinion. But such writings may prevent vice and folly, which is better than reclaiming them.
the exercise of this talent among the politest people of antiqui. ty, that he gained the name of (o "Expwv) the Droll.
There are very good effects which visibly arose from the above-mentioned performances, and others of the like nature.; as, in the first place, they diverted raillery from improper objects, and gave a new turn to ridicule, which, for many years, had been exerted on persons and things of a sacred and serious nature. They endeavoured to make mirth instructive; and, if they failed in this great end, they must be allowed, at least, to have made it innocent. If wit and humour begin again to relapse into their former licentiousness, they can never hope for approbation from those who know that raillery is useless when it has no moral under it, and pernicious when it attacks any thing that is either unblameable or praise-worthy. To this we may add, what has been commonly observed, that it is not difficult to be merry on the side of vice, as serious objects are the most capable of ridicule; as the party, which naturally favours such a mirth, is the most numerous: and as there are the most standing jests and patterns for imitation in this kind of writing.
In the next place, such productions of wit and humour, as have a tendency to expose vice and folly, furnish useful diversions to all kinds of readers. The good or prudent man may, by these means, be diverted, without prejudice to his discretion or morality. Raillery, under such regulations, unbends the mind from serious studies, and severer contemplations, without throwing it off from its proper bias. It carries on the same design that is promoted by authors of a graver turn, and only does it in another manner. It also awakens reflection in those who are the most indifferent in the cause of virtue or knowledge, by setting before them the absurdity of such practices as are generally unobserved, by reason of their being common or fashionable; nay, it sometimes catches the dissolute and abandoned before
they are aware of it who are often betrayed to laugh at themselves, and, upon reflection, find, that they are merry at their own expence. I might farther take notice, that by entertainments of this kind a man may be cheerful in solitude, and not be forced to seek for company every time he has a mind to be merry.
The last advantage I shall mention from compositions of this nature, when thus restrained, is that they shew wisdom and virtue are far from being inconsistent with politeness and good humour. They make morality appear amiable to people of gay dispositions, and refute the common objection against religion, which represents it as only fit for gloomy and melancholy tempers. It was the motto of a bishop, very eminent for his piety and good works, in King Charles the second's reign, Inservi Deo et lætare, 'Serve God and be chearful. Those, therefore, who supply the world with such entertainments of mirth as are instructive, or at least harmless, may be thought to deserve well of mankind; to which I shall only add, that they retrieve the honour of polite learning, and answer those sour enthusiasts who affect to stigmatize the finest and most elegant authors, both ancient and modern, (which they have never read) as dangerous to religion, and destructive of all sound and saving knowledge.
Our nation are such lovers of mirth and humour, that it is impossible for detached papers, which come out on stated days, either to have a general run, or long continuance, if they are not diversified, and enlivened from time to time, with subjects and thoughts accommodated to this taste, which so prevails among our countrymen. No periodical author, who always maintains his gravity, and does not sometimes sacrifice to the graces, must expect to keep in vogue for any considerable time. Political speculations in particular, however just and important, are of so dry and austere a nature, that they will not go down with the public without frequent seasonings of this kind. The work may