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the ghost of Ajax on that occasion. Oh Ajax ! (says he,) will you keep your resentments even after death? what destructions hath this fatal armour brought upon the Greeks by robbing them of you, who were their bulwark and defence ? Achilles is not more bitterly lamented among us than you. Impute not then your death to any one but Jupiter, who, out of his anger to the Greeks, took you away from among them: let me entreat you to approach me; restrain the fierceness of your wrath, and the greatness of your soul, and hear what I have to say to you.' Ajax, without making a reply, turned his back upon him, and retired into a crowd of ghosts.
Ulysses, after all these visions, took a view of those impious wretches who lay in tortures for the crimes they had committed upon the earth, whom he describes under all the varieties of pain, as so many marks of divine vengeance, to deter others from fol. lowing their example. He then tells us, that notwithstanding he had a great curiosity to see the heroes that lived in the ages before him, the ghosts began to gather about him in such pro digious multitudes, and with such confusion of voices, that his heart trembled as he saw himself amidst so great a scene of hor
He adds, that he was afraid lest some hideous spectre should appear to him, that might terrify him to distraction; and therefore withdrew in time.
I question not but my reader will be pleased with this description of a future state, represented by such a noble and fruit ful imagination, that had nothing to direct it besides the light of nature, and the opinions of a dark and ignorant age."
a These extracts from the writings of antiquity, tho' curious in themselves, and embellished by the masterly pen of our author, are yet, by no means, the most pleasing parts of his works. The reason, I take to be, that, to the learned reader, they want the grace of novelty; and, to the unlearned, as not entering into the ideas of ancient times, they appear cold and insipid. In the case before us, many a person, who is little affected by this gloomy tale of Homer's ghosts, would be warmed into an enthusiasm of virtue, by the fine paintings of futurity, which our best writers
No. 153. SATURDAY, APRIL 1, 1710.
From my own Apartment, March 31. [The hint of this paper, according to D'Israeli, was borrowed from a paper in the philosophical transactions for 1700, “A conjecture at dispositions from the modulations of the voice.”—G.]
I have heard of a very valuable picture, wherein all the painters of the age in which it was drawn, are represented sitting together in a circle, and joining in a concert of music. Each of them plays upon such a particular instrument as is the most suitable to his character, and expresses that style and manner of painting, which is peculiar to him. The famous cupolapainter of those times, to show the grandeur and boldness of his figures, hath a horn in his mouth, which he seems to wind with great strength and force. On the contrary, an eminent artist, who wrought up his pictures with the greatest accuracy, and gave them all those delicate touches which are apt to please the nicest eye, is represented as turning a theorbo. The same kind of humour runs through the whole piece.
I have often from this hint imagined to myself, that different talents in discourse might be shadowed out after the same manner by different kinds of music; and that the several conversible parts of mankind in this great city might be cast into proper characters and divisions, as they resemble several instruments that are in use among the masters of harmony. Of these, there fore, in their order, and first of the drum.
Your drums are the blusterers in conversation, that with a loud laugh, unnatural mirth, and a torrent of noise, domineer in public assemblies, overbear men of sense, stun their companions, and fill the place they are in with a rattling sound, that hath seldom any wit, humour, or good breeding in it. The drum,
have given, on the ideas of improved philosophy or sacred scripture; or, by one of Ur. Addison's own visiong.
notwithstanding, by this boisterous vivacity, is very proper to impose upon the ignorant; and in conversation with ladies, who are not of the finest taste, often passes for a man of mirth and wit, and for wonderful pleasant company. I need not observe, that the emptiness of the drum very much contributes to its noise.
The lute is a character directly opposite to the drum, that sounds very finely by itself, or in a very small concert. Its notes are exquisitely sweet, and very low, easily drowned in a multitude of instruments, and even lost among a few, unless you give a particular attention to it. A lute is seldom heard in a company of more than five, whereas a drum will show itself to advantage in an assembly of five hundred. The lutanists, therefore, are men of a fine genius, uncommon reflection, great affability, and esteemed chiefly by persons of a good taste, who are the only proper judges of so delightful and soft a melody.
The trumpet is an instrument that bas in it no compass of music, or variety of sound, but is notwithstanding very agreeable, so long as it keeps within its pitch. It has not above four or five notes, which are, however, very pleasing, and capable of exquisite turns and modulations. The gentlemen who fall under this denomination, are your men of the most fashionable educa: tion and refined breeding, who have learned a certain smoothness of discourse, and sprightliness of air, from the polite company they have kept; but at the same time have shallow parts, weak judgments, and a short reach of understanding; a play. house, a drawing-room, a ball, a visiting day, or a ring at HydePark, are the few notes they are masters of, which they touch upon in all conversations. The trumpet, however, is a necessary instrument about a court, and a proper enlivener of a concert, though of no great harmony by itself.
Violins are the lively, forward, importunate wits, that distinguish themselves by the flourishes of imagination, sharpness of repartee, glances of satire, and bear away the upper part in every concert. I cannot, however, but observe, that when a man is not disposed to hear music, there is not a more disagreeable sound in harmony, than that of a violin.
There is another musical instrument, which is more frequent in this nation than in any other; I mean your bass-viol, which grumbles in the bottom of the concert, and with a surly masculine sound strengthens the harmony, and tempers the sweetness of the several instruments that play along with it. The bass-viol is an instrument of a quite different nature to the trumpet, and may signify men of rough sense, and unpolished parts, who do not love to hear themselves talk, but sometimes break out with an agreeable bluntness, unexpected wit, and surly pleasantries, to the no small diversion of their friends and companions. In short, I look upon every sensible true-born Briton to be naturally a bass-viol.
As for your rural wits, who talk with great eloquence and alacrity of foxes, hounds, horses, quickset hedges, and six-bar gates, double ditches, and broken necks, I am in doubt, whether I should give them a place in the conversable world. However, if they will content themselves with being raised to the dignity of hunting-horns, I shall desire for the future that they may be known by that name.
I must not here omit the bagpipe species, that will entertain you from morning to night with the repetition of a few notes, which are played over and over, with the perpetual humming of a drone running underneath them. These are your dull, heavy, tedious story-tellers, the load and burthen of conversations, that set up for men of importance, by knowing secret history, and giving an account of transactions, that whether they ever passed
That whether"_to_" velfare.” Carelessly and elliptically express
in the world or not, doth not signify an halfpenny to its instruction, or its welfare. Some have observed, that the Northern parts of this island are more particularly fruitful in bagpipes.
There are so very few persons who are masters in every kind of conversation, and can talk on all subjects, that I do not know whether we should make a distinct species of them: nevertheless, that my scheme may not be defective, for the sake of those few who are endowed with such extraordinary talents, I shall allow them to be harpsichords, a kind of music which every one knows is a concert by itself.
As for your passing bells, who look upon mirth as criminal, and talk of nothing but what is melancholy in itself, and mortifying to human nature, I shall not mention them.
I shall likewise pass over in silence all the rabble of mankind, that crowd our streets, coffee-houses, feasts, and public tables. I cannot call their discourse conversation, but rather something that is practised in imitation of it. For which reason, if I would describe them by any musical instrument, it should be by those modern inventions of the bladder and string, tongs and key, marrowbone and cleaver.
My reader will doubtless observe, that I have only touched here upon male instruments, having reserved my female concert to another occasion. If he has a mind to know where these several characters are to be met with, I could direct him to a whole club of drums; not to mention another of bagpipes, which I have before given some account of in my description of our nightly meetings in Sheer-Lane. The lutes may often be met with in couples upon the banks of a crystal stream, or in the retreats of shady woods, and flowery meadows; which for different reasons are likewise the great resort of your hunting horns. Bass-viols
ed. The sense is, and, perhaps, the expression should have been-"transactions so frivolous, that one is not concerned to inquire, whether they ever passed in the world, or not.”