« PreviousContinue »
of their country. They further add from Brussels, that they have good authority for believing that the French troops under the conduct of the Marshal de Bezons are retiring out of Spain.
No. 37. TUESDAY, JULY 5, 1709.
Quicquid agunt homines-
Juv. Sat. I. 85, 86.
Whate'er men do, or say, or think, or dream,
By Mrs. JENNY DISTAFF, Half-sister to
White's Chocolate-house, July 2. It may be thought very unaccountable, that I, who can never be supposed to go to White's should pretend to talk to you of matters proper for, or in the style of, that place. But though I never visit these public haunts, I converse with those who do; and, for all they pretend so much to the contrary, they are as talkative as our sex, and as much at a loss to entertain the present company, without sacrificing the last, as we ourselves. This reflection has led me into the consideration of the use of speech; and made me look over, in my memory, all my acquaintance of both sexes, to know to which I may more justly impute the sin of superfluous discourse in regard to conversation, without entering into it, as it respects religion.
I foresee, my acquaintance will immediately, upon starting this subject, ask me, how I shall celebrate Mrs. Alse Copswood, the Yorkshire huntress, who is come to town lately, and moves as if she were on her nag, and going to take a five-bar gate; and is as loud as if she were following her dogs ! I can easily answer that; for, she is as soft as Damon, in comparison of her brother-in-law Tom Bellfrey, who is the most accomplished man in this kingdom for all gentleman-like activities and accomplishments. It is allowed, that he is a professed enemy to the Italian performers in music. But then, for our own native manner, according to the customs and known usages of our island, he is to be preferred, for the generality of the pleasure he bestows, much before those fellows, though they sing to full theatres. For, what is a theatrical voice to that of a fox-hunter ? I have been at a musical entertainment in an open field, where it amazed me to hear to what pitches the chief masters would reach. There was a meeting near our seat in Staffordshire, and the most eminent of all the counties of England were at ita How wonderful was the harmony between men and dogs! Robin Cartail of Bucks was to answer to Jowler; Mr. Tinbreast of Cornwall was appointed to open with Sweetlips; and Beau Slimber, a Londoner, undertook to keep up with Trips, a whelp just set in; Tom Bellfrey and Ringwood were coupled together, to fill the cry on all occasions, and be in at the death of the fox, hare, or stag, for which both the dog and the man were excellently suited, and loved one another, and were as much together, as Banister and King. When Jowler first alarmed the field, Cartail repeated every note; Sweetlip's treble succeeded, and shook the wood; Tinbreast echoed a quar
ter of a mile beyond it. We were soon after all at a loss, until we rode up, and found Trips and Slimber at a default in half notes: but the day and the tune was recovered by Tom Bellfrey and Ringwood, to the great joy of us all, though they drowned every other voice : for Bellfrey carries a note four furlongs, three rods, and six paces, farther than any other in England.
I fear the mention of this will be thought a digression from my purpose about speech; but I answer, no. Since this is used where speech rather should be employed, it may come into consideration in the same chapter : for, Mr. Bellfrey being at a visit where I was, viz. at his cousin's (Lady Dainty's) in Soho-square, was asked, what entertainments they had in the country? Now Bellfrey is very ignorant, and much a clown; but confident withal. In a word, he struck up a fox-chase ; Lady Dainty's dog, Mr. Sippet, as she calls him, started, jumped out of his lady's lap, and fell a barking. Bellfrey went on, and called all the neighbouring parishes into the square. . Never was woman in such confusion as that delicate lady. But there was no stopping her kins
A room full of ladies fell into the most violent laughter; my lady looked as if she was shrieking : Mr. Sippet, in the middle of the room, breaking his heart with barking, but all of us unheard. As soon as Belifrey became silent, up gets my lady, and takes him by the arm, to lead him off: Bellfrey was in his boots. As she was hurrying him away, his spurs take hold of her petticoat; his whip throws down a cabinet of china: he cries, “What! are your crocks rotten? are your petticoats ragged? A man cannot walk in your house for trincums." VOL. I.
Every county of Great Britain has one hundred or more of this sort of fellows, who roar instead of speaking. Therefore, if it be true, that we women are also given to a greater fluency of words than is necessary, sure, she that disturbs but a room or a family, is more to be tolerated, than one who draws together whole parishes and counties, and sometimes (with an estate that might make him the blessing and ornament of the world around him) has no other view and ambition, but to be an animal above dogs and horses, without the relish of any one enjoyment which is peculiar to the faculties of human nature. I know it will here be said, that talking of mere country Squires at this rate, is, as it were, to write against Valentine and Orson. To prove any thing against the race of men, you must take them as they are adorned with education; as they live in Courts, or have received instructions in Colleges.
But I am so full of my late entertainment by Mr. Bellfrey, that I must defer pursuing this subject to another day: and wave the proper observations
the different offenders in this kind, some by profound eloquence on small occasions, others by degrading speech upon great circumstances. Expect, therefore, to hear of the whisperer without business, the laugher without wit, the complainer without receiving injuries, and a very large crowd, which I shall not forestal, who are common, (though not commonly observed) impertinents, whose tongues are too voluble for their brains, and are the general despisers of us women, though we have their superiors, the men of sense for our servants.
Will's Coffee-house, July 3. A very ingenious gentleman was complaining this evening, that the players are grown so severe critics, that they would not take in his play, though it has as many fine things in it as any play that has been writ since the days of Dryden. He began his discourse about his play with a preface.
« There is,” said he “ somewhat (however we palliate it) in the very frame and make of us, that subjects our minds to chagrin and irresolution on any emergency of time or place. The difficulty grows on our sickened imagination, under all the killing circumstances of danger and disappointment. This we see, not only in the men of retirement and fancy, but in the characters of the men of action ; with this only difference, the coward sees the danger, and sickens under it; the hero, warmed by the difficulty, dilates, and rises in proportion to that, and in some sort makes use of his very fears to disarm it. A remarkable instance of this we have in the great Cæsar, when he came to the Rubicon, and was entering upon a part, perhaps the most hazardous he ever bore (certainly the most ungrateful) a war with his countrymen. When his mind brooded o'er personal affronts, perhaps his anger burned with a desire of revenge. But when more serious reflections laid before him the hazard of the enterprise, with the dismal consequences which were likely to attend it, aggravated by a special circumstance,
What figure it would bear in the world, or how be excused to posterity! What shall he do?'His honour, which was his religion, bids him arm; and he sounds the inclination of his party by this set speech :